|Subject: PNG is sleeping giant (in Rugby League), says Meninga
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Date Posted: Tue, Oct 28 2008, 12:38:25pm
PNG is sleeping giant, says Meninga
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Dan Koch | October 28, 2008
FORMER Australia captain Mal Meninga hopes Papua New Guinea's inspirational performance against England on Saturday night will open the eyes of rugby league fans to the nation he believes is the game's "sleeping giant".
The Kumuls lost 32-22 to the much-vaunted Englishmen in Townsville, but the enterprise and grit of Adrian Lam's men injected a much-needed sense of excitement into the World Cup tournament on its opening weekend.
Along with Sunday's enthralling curtain-raiser between New Zealand Maori and Australia's Indigenous Dreamtime side, the performance of PNG in pushing one of the pre-tournament favourites to the wire was the highlight of the first round.
Meninga, who has been a regular visitor to PNG for more than a decade and has led the Prime Minister's XIII there in recent years as coach, wasn't at all surprised.
"I have said for a long time I think PNG is a sleeping giant in our game," Meninga said.
"I have seen the talent there first-hand. Going right back to the 1980s they have produced some really good footballers and it is great they are getting to showcase that to the rest of the world now.
"I guess some people may be a bit surprised they are so strong, but I am not one of those people. I was up there recently with the Prime Minister's side and I could see they were preparing really well for this tournament.
"The fact is something like 13 of their squad play professionally in Australia or England, so they know what it takes."
Meninga missed seeing the game live because he was on a three-day charity bike ride from Brisbane to Noosa and back with fellow Former Origin Greats (FOGS) Peter Ryan, Gary Belcher and Paul Green, raising funds for the Day of Difference Foundation, which supports critically injured children and their families.
The successful Queensland coach was encouraged by reports of the stellar performance from Dragons-bound backrower Neville Costigan.
He was also full of praise for coach Lam and urged the NRL plus the PNG and Australian governments to use the World Cup as a platform to boost the game with a view to one day having an NRL side based there.
"Rugby league is the national game over there. They are so passionate about it, so I really hope we can use the team's performance in the World Cup as a starting point," he said.
From The Australian News Report - Read Here
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[> Subject: Re: PNG is sleeping giant (in Rugby League), says Meninga
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Date Posted: Tue, Oct 28 2008, 03:28:14pm
With due respect to the Kumuls for an exceptional performance against UK in the 1st game of the world cup,every thing else is a sleeping giant in PNG....actually they are in a concussion.
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