Wani to ref league test


PAPUA New Guinea’s leading rugby league referee Paul Wani has been appointed by the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) at the recommendation of the PNGRFL to referee a test match between Japan and Hong Kong on June 16 in Japan.
PNGRFL chairman Sandis Tsaka said Wani’s appointment to referee the test was a vote of confidence in the country’s ability to produce a high standard in players and officials.
“This is a vote of confidence by the RLIF to the development of our game in PNG,” Tsaka said.
“It is a show of confidence in our standards and programmess, especially the training and accreditation systems developed and established in partnership with the NRL and QRL over the past few years.
“We have been investing in our referees and coaches over the past several years and the fruits of this investment are showing with Paul’s appointment.”
Tsaka said the last PNG referee to officiate an international match was Graham Ainui, who refereed a New Zealand v France test in June, 1991.
“Graham Ainui refereed an international match 26 years ago so it’s good to finally have another Papua New Guinean be given the duty again. I congratulate Paul on this appointment and wish him the very best when he controls his first international match,” Tsaka said.
RLIF international development manager Tas Baitieri confirmed in an email to Tsaka that Wani would referee the test.
“I have spoken to the Japan officials who were in Sydney for the Cabramatta 9s earlier this month and they have agreed to a neutral referee from PNG,” Baitieri said.
He said the two teams — Japan and Hong Kong — played last year in Hong Kong with Japan winning the fixture which was refereed by an Australian.
Baitieri added that he was looking at supporting referees’ development and programmes in other countries and saw Wani as a suitable candidate from PNG after watching him at the 2015 Pacific Games.
Wani was excited when told of this appointment.
“I am really happy and excited,” Wani said.
“I thank the PNGRFL for their continued development of referees and the RLIF for their support. I will do my best.”

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