Muruks go with Higgins

Normal, Sports

The National, Wednesday 15th Febuary 2012


LAE-based Structural Bridging System Muruks players will remain with current franchise owner Tom Higgins despite Southern Highlands provincial government and the Kiburu Lodge support.

This was revealed in an exclusive interview with several players and management after yesterday’s National backpage story that Mendi’s Kiburu Lodge had offered to pay the Muruks franchise fee.

And PNGNRL general manager Hubert Warupi said the national league would not accept any new franchise from Mendi apart from Higgins’ Muruks.

The Briton has been the sole backer of Muruks for the past eight years.

Despite the SHP governments support pledging K300,000 and Kiburu Lodge’s offering, current Muruks players say they will remain with Higgins.

Most players including former player and current coach Stanley Hondina when contacted yesterday said Lae-based Muruks would not move until the provincial government started giving something back to Higgins.

"Ol stap long wanem hap na nau tasol ol laik toktok long kisim Muruks go bek long Mendi (Where were they before and just now they want to talk about bringing Muruks back to Mendi?) Hondina said.

"In tough times, Higgins was with the boys, and he has spent a large amount of money to look after the boys and carry the SHP flag winning three consecutive titles.

"Tom has looked after the boys well and has made the team like a family and nothing concrete by the provincial government has been given back to Higgins to appreciate that this expatriate has done for the province especially the flag barrier, Muruks.

"Higgins is like a father to the boys here and if they are to bring back Muruks to Mendi, they have to do something to Higgins by giving some business to his company," Hondina said.

Hondina said Structural Bridging System Ltd was a professional company specialising in constructing and laying iron and steel bridges.

With SHP seeing an upshoot in business with the LNG project, not one single project had been given to SBSL to appreciate the effort and support Higgins had given for the Muruks since Mendi faced a state of emergency with the tribal fighting a decade ago.

"The boys’ concern is that the support must be a continuous one and not to use this as a political avenue where it comes for once and goes off.

"If Higgins has agreed to continue his support, I know the boys will be with him and the only thing to bring Muruks back to the newly upgraded Tente Oval is by awarding some contracts or business to Higgins.

"That is the only way the boys in Lae can go back to Mendi," Hondina said this during a phone interview last night from Tari.

Warupi when asked about the support from Kiburu Lodge said he was aware of it but the PNGNRL board would not make any decision as Higgins had given his assurance to support the Muruks.

"Higgin’s sponsorship of the Muruks has been on-going so that was a crucial factor to consider," Warupi said when explaining why the PNGNRL board was not entertaining other offers to bail out the Mendi Muruks.