Mal's PNG passion

Queensland Origin coach Mal Meninga is helping to grow the international game at today’s Cabramatta 9s tournament – not spying on our NSW VB Blues Origin set-up.

Meninga is in Sydney as coach of the Emerging PNG Kumuls at the 9s, and judging by the early results of the tournament he’s doing a great job.

At the time of publication Meninga’s side had begun the tournament with two wins from three matches, an effort that’s likely to see them progress to the finals.

The Queensland and Canberra great is part of the PNG framework that’s aiming to improve their own side's results and grow the international game. It’s already reaped benefits with a Commonwealth Championship Rugby League victory in Glasgow last year.

“They’ve done a really good job around culture over the past 12 months or so. A lot of these kids were a part of that successful Commonwealth Nines in Glasgow,” Meninga told NSWRL.com.au.

“The majority of these guys are young… with a lot of promise and it’s great to give them exposure in this type of tournament.”

Meninga, in charge of the Kumuls’ elite teams and camps, said he very much enjoys the challenge of coaching one of the world’s most passionate rugby league nations.

“I get tremendous satisfaction out of coaching the Maroons but to see a passionate rugby league nation like PNG improve, start to make really good decisions related to development programs and get international exposure, it augers well to the future of the sport in the PNG,” Meninga said.

“They’re a great bunch of players and there’s an amazingly passionate fan base too.”

And no, Meninga says, he’s not here on a ‘research’ trip to analyse Laurie Daley’s Origin-winning NSW VB Blues side.

“[The New South Welshmen] are treating us really well at the moment but they’re definitely bragging about the Origin win,” Meninga said.

“I’m not [spying], I’m here only in my capacity as the Kumuls coach (laughs).”

PNG are just one of the international representative sides at this weekend’s 9s tournament. Also represented are Chile, Malta, Nieu, Canada, Philippines, America Samoa, El Salvadore, Thailand, Portugal, Cook Islands and Fiji.

Cabramatta 9s results, photo galleries and video highlights will appear on NSWRL.com.au over the coming days.