RUGBY league great and Queenslands super coach Mal Meninga could lead the Kumuls charge to the World Cup in October and November. According to the National Newspaper, Meninga, 52, pictured, the former Kangaroos captain who played 46 tests and the record-breaking Queensland State of Origin coach, let slip occassionally in a recent television interview after the Residents XIII’s 38-12 loss to South Sydney last Saturday referring to the team as “us” and “we”.
The deal to get one of the sport’s icons into the Kumuls fold is believed to have been struck in Sydney while Adrian Lam’s Residents XIII were there for the Return to Redfern clash.
Lam is expected to deputise but Meninga will be in charge of the bid to make the semi-finals of the global event for the first time.
Meninga has had a previous association with rugby league in PNG having been a member of the PNG NRL Bid board in 2009.
He has coached the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII since the first match of the annual fixture in 2005.
The National understands the Meninga deal has the full backing of the new Papua New Guinea Rugby League board headed by Don Fox.
It is understood Meninga’s role has been endorsed by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko.
The minister had previously emphasised the need to have the Kumuls professionally looked after with the best coaching and guidance and this could be the direction with Meninga.
Tkatchenko stressed the need to have national squad members under an agreement where rugby league can become a career and ultimately result in an ever-ready Kumuls side when and where they have an international committment.