Thursday, February 14, 2013

Aiton wants PNG to unearth a new Stanley Gene

by Tom Coates, RLWC2013 
 

Papua New Guinea hooker Paul Aiton has issued a rallying call to the people of Hull, ahead of the Kumuls’ clashes with Samoa and France at MS3 Craven Park at Rugby League World Cup 2013.

Paul Aiton
Craven Park is home to Super League outfit Hull KR, with whom Stanley Gene built a famous career in the UK following his strong performances for PNG at the 1995 Rugby League World Cup.
And Aiton hopes to utilise the nation’s links to the city of Hull and mobilise a partisan crowd behind PNG at RLWC2013.
“We have the link with Stanley and Makali [Aizue] having played over there, and both players still have a great following over in Hull,” Aiton told LoveRugbyLeague.com.
“I really hope we can rally the support of the Hull KR fans at the tournament. We’re based over in Hull and I know Stanley feels a great love for the city.
“He played for Hull KR and Hull FC, and I hope we can get supporters from both sides of the divide down at Craven Park for the games.
“In return, I’d like to think that people weill enjoy the way we play and the passion we show whenever we pull on the shirt of our nation.
“We play hard, we play expansive footy and we like to entertain the fans.”
Aiton also believes that RLWC2013 could help uncover the next big star from PNG, 18 years after Gene made his mark on British soil.
“Not too many players have been picked up. I’ve been involved with the Kumuls for a lot of years now and I’ve played alongside some very talented young players,” he said.
“I’m very surprised that so many haven’t been given a chance. I don’t know if they are undiscovered, or that clubs just don’t want to take the chance.
“But I definitely think we could unearth another Stanley Gene at RLWC2013. There are a lot of players who could make it over here.
“I’ve found the Super League very welcoming and I’m sure there’ll be some perfect match-ups between British clubs and PNG players looking for an opportunity.
“Stanley’s obviously enjoyed his stay, and he’s enjoyed a fantastic career with a few clubs, and I can see no reason why another PNG player can’t follow in his footsteps.
“Plus, there’s a good network of PNG players over here now, which would really help make the transition a smooth one.”
And, while Aiton is hoping to depend on vociferous backing from the terraces at RLWC2013, he knows for sure that the team can also count on PNG’s own fanatical Rugby League fan base back home.
“There’ll be so many tuning into watch the games on TV this Autumn, and I can tell you that the stories people hear about how fanatical the fans can be are completely true,” said Aiton.
“They just love the game. When a Kangaroos side comes over to play PNG it’s unbelievable. They’re rock stars to the people of PNG and they get treated that way.
“You’ll get hundreds turning up when they arrive at the airport, just so fans can say they’ve seen these players in real life.
“Rugby League is the number one sport in PNG and we want to do our nation proud at Rugby League World Cup 2013.
“We can’t wait for the challenge.”
Papua New Guinea face France at MS3 Craven Park on October 27, and return to the venue on November 4, when Samoa provide the opposition.
The Kumuls’ group campaign then culminates on November 8, when they travel to Headingley to take on defending champions New Zealand.

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