2 May 2007

PNG rugby league says draw offers no benefits

10:39 am on 2 May 2007

Papua New Guinea is threatening to boycotting next year's rugby league world cup because it says the draw offers no benefit in the national team turning up.

The threat comes as outrage grows in the rugby league-mad nation over being grouped with the top three teams - Australia, New Zealand and England - in a pool from which three teams progress to the semi-finals.

PNG Rugby League chairman Sir Bob Sinclair says he wasn't even consulted over the just-released draw which he describes as a joke.

Former PNG Kumuls winger Marcus Bai, who is now on the PNG coaching staff, says being in such a draw means only heavy defeats for the 7th ranked team in the world:

"If they don't change this pool or this decision of us playing in the same pool as Australia, England and New Zealand, we will pull out, or we will talk to other South Pacific Island countries to start our own World Cup because we can't see ourselves competing in that World Cup. The Rugby League International Federation committee is looking after the big boys and not us, the South pacific Island nations or the little countries - and at the end of the day it's not promoting rugby league in our regional countries and that."