GATESHEAD Thunder’s Papua New Guinea quartet Gary Lo, Mark Mexico, Jason Tali and Charlie Wabo say the prospect of working with Stanley Gene played a big part in their decision to sign.
League One side Thunder added the four Kumuls to their squad for 2015 last month, to help with the bid for Championship promotion next term.
Gene, 40, is a popular figure in PNG, as one of its most successful rugby league exports.
“Back home, everyone knows Stanley Gene,” Wabo said. “He’s a legend.”
Wabo told BBC Sport: “To bring the four of us up here is a big thing.
“It’s an opportunity to work with Stanley at Gateshead Thunder and we’re looking forward to it.”
Although Lo, 22, and Tali, 25, have never been contracted outside their home nation, prop Mexico, 25, had been playing for the Cronulla Sharks feeder club side in the NSW Cup, while 30-year-old hooker Wabo has previous experience of English rugby league with the Hunslet Hawks. “I’m not too sure about the rugby league over here because at home it’s all NRL,” Mexico said.
“I’ve been playing for Cronulla and it’s very tough, but it seems alright here in England.”
The quartet arrived in England’s North East last month and were already acclimatising to their new surroundings.
They spent the first few days settling into their new home and getting acquainted with their teammates and the facilities they will be using during the 2015 Kingstone Press League 1 campaign.
After being introduced to the local media at Kingston Park a week after arriving, the four explained the decision that has seen them swap the warmer climate of their home for that of Tyneside.
Tali said: “The main reason is our rugby, it is a big opportunity we have been given to come to a different country and play at a high standard.”
“Stanley is our legend, everyone back home knows Stan and for him to bring us over means alot,” compatriot Mexico said in support. “Hopefully, coming to Gateshead, we can play well and inspire our countrymen.
“It is the national game in PNG, all the kids in the schools and the towns have a rugby ball in their hands — so hopefully, we can inspire them too.” Thunder beat off stiff competition to land the four players signatures, including interest from Super League and NRL outfits with the lure of playing in a high quality stadium, with elite level training facilities for a club with ambitions of establishing itself as a top level side in the future proving to be an opportunity too good to pass up.
Wabo said: “Thunder is a club that gives players access to facilities that would normally only be available to Super League or NRL level clubs so it is a big opportunity,” – BBC
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Downer Rugby League 9s World Cup
- PNG Kumuls 0 Australia 26
- PNG Kumuls 18 New Zealand Kiwis 18
- PNG Kumuls 23 USA Tomahawks 10
Pacific Test Results
201 9 - PNG Kumuls 28 Great Britain Lions 10
2019 - Fiji Bati 22 PNG Kumuls 20
2019 - PNG Kumls 6 Samoa 24
2018 - PNG Kumuls 26 Fiji Bati 14
2017 - PNG Kumuls 32 Cook Islands 22
2016 - PNG Kumuls 24 Fiji Bati 22
2015- Fiji Bati 22 PNG Kumuls 22
World Cup Results
Round 1 : PNG Kumuls 50 Wales 6
Round 2: PNG Kumuls 14 Ireland 6
Round 3 PNG Kumuls 64 USA 0
Quarter Finals : PNG Kumuls 6 England 36