The recent announcement of the 24 Men PNG Kumuls Squad for the World Cup has resulted in a social media backlash against the Kumuls selectors and sustained Cyber Bullying of individuals. The brunt of this relentless cyber bullying is directed at the seasoned PNG Hunters hooker Wesser Tenza. But what was his crime?
For every Papua New Guinean youngster who starts playing backyard rugby league at the earliest of age, we dream of one day playing for the Kumuls. For Wesser Tenza it was the same. He showed a lot of promise early on and made his Digicel Cup debut in 2010 with the Mendi Muruks in his teens. After more than a decade of being consistent and asserting himself as one of the most influential local players around, he finally gets the call up to represent his country in a World Cup.
In the Digicel Cup where most players play a few seasons and then lose their form and fitness, Wesser is among a handful of dedicated local players who have managed to maintain peak fitness year in, year out. A multiple Digicel Cup premiership winner, Wesser is humble, down to earth and has remained a role model when most of his peers lost their way to rugby league popularity.
He joined Hela Wigmen 2013 and helped deliver their first Digicel Cup Premiership in 2014. Tenza was recruited by the Snax Tigers where he won a couple more premierships earning his place as one of the best hookers in the local scene.
Departing the Tigers, he teamed up with Mendi Muruks and helped initiate their revival in the 2020-2021 Digicel Cup season ending his time there in their Preliminary final loss to the Waghi Tumbes at the NFS. Wesser was rewarded for his form with selection to the 2022 PNG Hunters squad under Mathew Church.
The two seasons (2021-2022) Mathew Church was in charge of the PNG Hunters was a total disaster, as records proved PNG elite teams fare better under local Head Coaches. I think communication is one of the biggest factors affecting performance. Kumuls Coach Stanley Tapend and the management named six of those PNG Hunters players in the 24 men World Cup squad, Wesser Tenza among them.
According to the Australian media this is one of the most experienced squads the Kumuls ever assembled, boasting experience, class and depth in all positions. However that has been overshadowed locally by Social Media users who have been unfairly and brutally cyber bullying hooker Wesser Tenza.
We all had our reservations too when the squad was announced about some of the players selections and aired our views but the hate speech and cyber bullying is getting out of hand. There may be more classy options at Hooker in the form of the overlooked NRL Journeyman James Segayro and double Queensland Cup Winner Liam Horne but instead of directing their attacks and criticism at the PNG Kumuls and the PNG RFL Management, the Hunters hooker Tenza is facing an unfair social media storm.
Wesser Tenza did not select himself into the Kumuls World Cup Squad and he is not even the Tambu of the Coach to get a free pass. His consistency, dedication and endurance has finally paid off. Wesser is living his childhood dream to wear a Kumul jumper.
Lesser men will retreat back into their shells but knowing the competitor that he is and the countless times he rose through adversity to be here, Wesser will rise to the challenge when the opportunity presents itself.
For now, we have all made our points clear, let us wait and see what the World Cup brings..
artwork credits: Waga Kane of Gaga Graphix
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