The National, Wednesday October 9th, 2013
RUGBY league Digicel Cup hardliners Jacob Ivaroa and Isaac Joseph insist Mal Meninga is wrong.
Speaking out at Team Kumuls coaching director Mal Meninga saying the sport was not up to scratch in Papua New Guinea, they said results were what counted and that Meninga and coach Adrian Lam had failed to deliver.
While Digicel Cup judiciary chairman David Silivo backed the Queensland Maroons mentor, Ivaroa and Joseph disagreed.
Both Ivaroa, a committee member of the Gulf Isapea franchise, and Joseph, chairman of the Mendi Muruks board, said the performance of the Prime Minister’s XIII during the 50-10 hiding by a near full-strength Australian Kangaroos in Kokopo “does not reflect the amount of time, money and resources that has gone in to prepare the team”.
Meninga said rugby league internationally, in particular the Australian National Rugby League (NRL), had advanced significantly while that could not be said about PNG.
He urged the rugby league fraternity here to be patient and to allow their programme to grow over the next five years before judging him.
Silovo said he agreed with Meninga as he believed a good number of the elite playing stock had diminished over the years since the Pacific Cup in 2009.
“The game in Kokopo was a revelation of what playing stocks we have,” Silivo said.
But Ivaroa said Meninga’s statement was totally misleading and an attempt to divert attention to the fact that he and coach Lam had failed to deliver.
Joseph said if, as Meninga claimed local players were not good enough, why where stakeholders lead by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill paying good money to bring good results.
Ivaroa said with the kind of money used to pay Team Kumuls coaching staff, it would be better spent on several promising local coaches from the Digicel Cup.
Both were critical of players being field out of their normal positions and specialist players being overlooked.
Joseph commended O’Neill for the National Government’s commitment to the cause.
He said the game’s administrators and Team Kumuls coaches must back that up with results.