PNG gains support from World Cup rivals - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

PNG gains support from World Cup rivals

By Laine Clark 23/10/2008 08:28:34 PM Comments (0)

Support for Papua New Guinea has come from an unlikely source - their Rugby League World Cup rivals England.

As momentum grows for a bold long-term plan for a PNG NRL team, England captain Jamie Peacock stood up for the Kumuls, saying they deserved more international rugby league.

And Kumuls coach Adrian Lam has called for the PNG government to get their priorities right and start throwing support behind the national team before calling for NRL entry.

Peacock said if the international body was serious about developing the game, they should stop snubbing PNG.

"Personally speaking, I think we need to keep improving the international game," Peacock said in Townsville before their Cup opener against PNG on Saturday night.

"I've been playing for nine years now and this is the first chance I've had to play against Papua New Guinea and I don't think that's right.

"We should get the chance to play against each other more often.

"Maybe a couple of internationals mid-season, but there should be a real focus on international league - it should become the pinnacle of any player's career, playing international football."

To put PNG's international schedule - or lack thereof - in perspective, Lam enjoyed a 10-year first grade career, and played for his country just six times.

And those games spanned six years.

Now as PNG coach, Lam wants something done about it.

"I feel we don't play enough international matches," he said.

"As a country and as a team, we have improved out of sight over the last four or five years.

"Just getting people in there that are a bit more professional and putting some infrastructure with a coach and structure throughout the junior system (would make a difference).

"I think we've got the largest schoolboy rugby league talent in the world too, which is something we can build on."

Lam has also called for PNG government support for the national team.

He claimed the government had "nothing to do" with their Cup campaign.

Lam believed the PNG government should back the national team before making bold NRL plans.

"We need to get our backyard right first," he said.

"I know we've got a major financial backer there (for an NRL team) and they've been talking about building an international stadium and playing some matches out of Cairns and stuff like that.

"So the overall package looks good. But the government have just got to get behind the national team a little bit more before they start pushing (an NRL team)."

The PNG government have invited NRL boss David Gallop and ARL chief executive Geoff Carr to discuss what needs to be done to enter a team.

Lam and Meninga have agreed that a PNG team would need to cut their teeth in the Queensland Cup before realising their NRL dream.

PNG have been included in the World Cup "super group" also including England, Australia and New Zealand.

Three teams from the group move straight into the semi-finals - but no one expects PNG to be one of them.

Lam had labelled the draw "unfair" for the football-starved Kumuls but wants to use it as motivation for their Cup campaign.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2020 AAP

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