By KEITH PUARIA
THE big question on everyone’s lips is not why PNG performed terribly at last weekend’s Adelaide Sevens but where the national coach Waisale Serevi was while PNG floundered?
The cat-and-mouse games for information regarding the latest developments in the Papua New Guinea rugby sevens team and its supposed sacking of sevens legend Serevi, have met the same non-committal response by the team officials and the PNG Rugby Football Union.
A lack of any kind of promotion or build-up by team officials and the PNGRFU office even before the side’s departure for Adelaide, should have raised the alarm on the “silent” status placed on the national sevens team.
After a signing a multi-year contract for Serevi’s services it seems the wheels have fallen off PNG Rugby and major backer Mineral Resource Development Corporation’s plans of significantly lifting the rugby sevens profile of PNG.
Reports from Adelaide uncovered PNG Rugby’s problem, with Serevi no where to be seen near the team at the halftime breaks on the field, or with the team throughout the entire tournament.
He was sighted instead with the Fiji team according to news from the Fiji Times. Efforts to obtain information from the PNGRFU yesterday were unsuccessful, with office staff unwilling to comment without the approval of PNGRFU President, Richard Sapias, who is away in New Caledonia for a Federation of Oceania Rugby Union (FORU) meeting.
The Rugby Office however did mention that a statement would be released as soon as President Sapias returned.
Reports sourced from Fiji media confirmed however that Serevi did not go with the PNG sevens team to Adelaide, and that this had stemmed from problems he was having with the PNG Rugby Union.
Fiji’s newspapers too are apparently following closely an unconfirmed incident involving Serevi at Adelaide.
The Fiji Times quoted this week a PNG Sevens official admitting he had not seen or spoken to Serevi through out the Adelaide event.
The events that have unfolded from Adelaide have slightly diverted attention however from the real problem that PNG Rugby now faces, after another disappointing Pacific leg of the International Rugby sevens Circuit.
The PNG team returned losses at Adelaide against Kenya (27-7), Wales (64-5) and Fiji (41-0) in the pool matches, not to mention further beatings to England (47-0) and Tonga (45-0) in the Bowl and Shield play-offs respectively.
“There are some 1000 eligible players for the national team, and we still can’t bring the best team together. Why?
“Have we made any real progress or are we trying to window-dress?”a senior rugby personality who wished to remain anonymous said yesterday.
Meanwhile the PNG sevens team arrived back on Monday.
Efforts to reach team officials and sponsor MRDC’s office too were unsuccessful.