The former Queensland and Australian rugby league great, who has been associated with national team since the beginning of last year, will take the reins of the national sides despite having minimal involvement with the country’s main top tier competition, the Digicel Cup and the PNG Hunters in the Queensland Cup.
PNG Rugby Football league chief executive officer Brad Tassell said the 54-year-old was always going to be the coach of the national teams.
“Mal (Meninga) is head of the Team Kumul programme and therefore it stands to reason that he will coach the Kumuls and PM’s XIII. We made that announcement early in the year and nothing has changed,” Tassell said yesterday.
Tassell said he and PNGRFL chairman Sandis Tsaka were bemused by yesterday’s story in The National that said Kumuls assistant coach to last year’s World Cup in England, Michael Marum, was the prime candidate for the job.
“Mal will coach the teams (PM’s XIII and Kumuls), that has always been the plan. Michael (Marum) will be his assistant,” Tassell said.
The rugby league representative calendar consists of two matches, the Prime Ministers’ XIII clash on October 12 followed by a one-off test match against Tonga.
Tassell said other local coaches and trainers would be given the opportunity to coach representative sides.
“We’ll have coaches and trainers from the top four Digicel Cup teams given positions in the representative sides.”
The representative sides are the PM’s XIII, Digicel All Stars and the National Zone All Stars sides who will feature on Oct 12.
Tassell said an official announcement would be made by the PNGRFL on Meninga and the teams later this month.
“We’ll have all that information by the end of the month. Right now we’re contacting our overseas based players and finding out who is available and who’s not for the two matches. We’ve got the National Zones championship that takes place later this month so once that is all done the teams will be announced,” Tassell said.