The National, Friday 01st of February, 2013
By KEITH PUARIA
THERE is no reason why the country cannot export local rugby league talent overseas, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says.
“Believe in yourself,” O’Neill told members of the Residents XIII on Wednesday night.
Speaking at a farewell function hosted by Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko for the team that leaves this afternoon for Sydney, O’Neill said: “Many of us come from very humble beginnings and many are times, we are told that we can’t do it, we are talked down and we tend to believe it.
“Papua New Guineans are some of the most intelligent and capable people.
“If we can come from our own simple villages and societies and learn a foreign language and progress in the modern world, we can be as good on the sporting fields,” he said.
Tkatchenko offered the team some inspiration, saying: “South Sydney is a fantastic opportunity to prove yourselves.
“Besides what you are going over to South Sydney to do for rugby league in PNG, you will promote PNG and who we are.
“Take yourselves to the next level.” He touched on future plans for the game and the national team.
“We are going to do things differently. We will commit to long-term goals and not short-term,” he said.
Both stressed the government’s commitment and backing.
“Our government is fully behind the development of rugby league and all other sports and we intend to do more,” O’Neill said.
“We are the sleeping giants of the Pacific and come the 2015 Games, we’ll show what we can truly be.”
O’Neill reminded the team that the government had sacrificed funds from other areas of the country’s development for the team because it had great belief in the success of the Kumuls.
“We are utilising government funding that is scarce but we believe not only in the team, but what it can do for the people of our country.”
Coach Adrian Lam thanked the government for rugby league’s turn-around and its belief in the national team.
“We will fly our flag, defend our country. We intend to get the respect that we feel we’ve lost over the years. We will enjoy the experience and hope to bring home the result