KUMUL management under PNG RFL interim committee member Gary Juffa and coach Stanley Gene are sure to get a frosty reception on their return this week from the Four Nations campaign.
Sports Minister Philemon Embel, in a press release, yesterday called on all PNGRFL affiliates in the country to “immediately remove the caretaker administration and appoint and a board comprising of more mature people” at the league’s annual general meeting next month.
Moreover, he said the new board would need “people who have the game at heart and the respect of the corporate and wider community” and although he did not mention names, he left no doubt as to who he had levelled the blame on.
Both rookie coach Gene and rookie rugby league administrator Juffa had touted a change in Kumul fortunes prior to taking the reigns for the Four Nations but the honeymoon is well and truly over after a disastrous tournament.
In a surprising move, Embel also called for the return of Adrian Lam to the head coach’s role and for Michael Marum and Gene to work alongside the St George Illawara assistant coach to take the Kumuls into the future.
“I want to see Adrian Lam return as the coach of the Kumuls and return them to their winning Pacific Cup standards.
“I cannot support the current rugby league administration and I am very disappointed that unnecessary changes were made against my concern and advice only weeks before the Four Nations.”
What those “unnecessary changes” were, Embel did not elaborate but player selections could be one item on the ledger.
Embel also noted that New Zealand rugby league had made enormous progress over the past 20 years simply by adopting a professional approach given that it faced similar problems the PNGRFL has experienced.
“New Zealand had similar problems to PNG and undertook a major overhaul of rugby league in the 1980s.
“As a result they are now world champions.
“We must follow their model in order for us to be equally competitive,” he said.
Embel however did praise the efforts of the squad saying they had performed under stressful conditions that they were placed in by management.
“The boys shouldn’t feel too responsible.
“I place sole responsibility on the management and the coach.”
“We have lost too much.
“Obviously I did not expect the Kumuls to win the Four Nations this year but I did expect them to show structure, competitiveness and skill.
But that was not the case. The coaching staff had not nothing to impart.”
Embel, who also has the added responsibility of being the chairman of the government-backed PNG NRL bid board, further backed Lam’s return when he hinted that his resignation was forced and may have been on unfounded allegations.
“The players would have been better off under the former coach.
“I know that some issues have been raised against Adrian but there is no basis.”
Embel also made his pick for coach for the next World Cup emphatic.
“I want Adrian to return and prepare the Kumuls for the 2013 World Cup.”
The minister said the focus for PNG rugby league would now need to be at the junior level and the bid team had already made headway in starting a viable junior development programme for the country.
“The future for addressing the competitiveness of PNG players is through junior development.
“This is why I am so proud as chairman of the PNG NRL bid of the bid’s initiatives in creating pathways through the PNG All Schools rugby league programmes.
“The only way to ensure there are more PNG based players with competitive skills, is to embark on aggressive, well balanced junior and school boy development programs, as the bid is doing.
“I want the new PNGRFL to work with the Bid and create a strong, sustainable national junior schoolboy pathway.”
Embel concluded his release with the epitaphPNG’s Four Nations results: “We lost respect. And respect is just what we were looking for .”