Marcus Bai

Whilst there is still work to be done to further develop the game of rugby league in Papua New Guinea, there is no doubting that some strides forward have been made – but that has done little to allay the fears of former Melbourne Storm back and Kumuls legend, Marcus Bai, who has major concerns for the future of the sport in PNG.

For Bai, he believes that as it stands, the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League and the PNGNRL organisation bid, are consuming too much time and not needed as a whole.

Bai also believes that PNG Sports and Pacific Games Minister Justin Tkatchenko is ‘interfering’ with the development and future of rugby league in the country.

“I assume this funding has been spent, in my opinion I cannot see anything to show for the substantial funding given,” he said.

“The PNGNRL Bid is structured with a share holding and a board with an aim to get a PNG team in the NRL.

“I am very doubtful that a team from PNG will be considered for entry before 2020.”

For the long-term longevity of rugby league in the country, Bai believes it is crucial to develop a grassroots level of talent.

“If the PNGRFL was given half the funding that was given to the PNGNRL Bid they would be able to engage and effectively administer the code in this country,” Bai said.

Bai has also asked for an investigation into audits and structure of the spending conducted by the PNGRFL and the PNGNRL bid.

The response from PNG Rugby League Foundation Chief Executive Officer Brad Tassell and the PNG Sports and Pacific Games Minister was swift, as they deny claims of a merger as Bai insists.

“There has never been and never will be a merger between the foundation/Bid and the PNGRFL,” Tassell said.

“The PNGRFL are the sole governing body of the sport.

“We will only asisst where where we can at the request of the motherbody to deliver its programmes.”

Tassell says that they have a vision for the future, starting with acceptance into the Queensland Cup for 2014, as well as the construction of a sound and successful schoolboys program.

“Apart from the junior programme, the QRL Cup entry is the biggest task for us and nothing else.

“The schoolboys programme has taken up a lot of our time. We will continue that this year and also set the groundwork for entry into the Queensland Cup.

“If we can be competitive there and show the QRL that we can be successful on and off the field, then the next goal will be trying to get into the NRL.”

“All our books up to the last finicial year have been audited and that information is available to anyone who wants it,” Tassell said.

For Tkatchenko, since being handed the task of restoring rugby league in the country, he says he has worked hard to achieve that and criticised Bai for his comments, citing them as ‘ill-informed’ and says it does nothing for the image of the sport in Papua New Guinea.

“The PNGRFL and the PNG Rugby League Foundation (previously the PNG NRL Bid) have not merged. That is the answer to Bai’s question.

“If Marcus is really concerned about the code then he should come up here and assist. He should know better then to talk about something he knows little about. He is ill-informed and if he wants to know about rugby league, then all he needs to do is contact Brad and I,” Tkatchenko said.

“He needs to get his facts right before embarrasing himself like this.”

By ricky

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