Former Australia player, Origin coach Mal Mengina to take charge of Papua New Guinea program

BRISBANE, Australia - Australian rugby league great Mal Meninga has signed a five-year contract to become high performance director for Papua New Guinea's national team.

Meninga will work with PNG's head coach Adrian Lam. Meninga has guided Queensland to a record seven consecutive State of Origin wins over New South Wales since 2006, and will continue as Maroons coach.

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The 52-year-old Meninga, who played 46 tests for Australia from 1982-1994 and was captain for 23 of those, is Australian-born of South Sea Islander descent.

Meninga told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio on Wednesday that he hopes the PNG team will "improve out of sight" and he'll make his first priority the country's appearance at the World Cup in England in October.

His partnership with Lam will be important for the development of the game in Papua New Guinea, where a consortium has been pushing for a PNG team in an expanded NRL competition.

Lam played 146 matches for Sydney City Roosters in Australia's National Rugby League and also played in the English Super League for Wigan. He played in 14 Origin matches for Queensland and represented the PNG national team, known as the Kumuls, in 11 tests.

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