SP PNG Hunter Mark Mexico has been signed by Australian NRL club the Cronulla Sharks and will link with his new club immediately.
Mexico, a World Cup Kumul front rower, has signed a one-‐year contract with the option of an extended contract based on his performances at his new club this season.
Having just returned from minor knee surgery Mexico played his third game back in the SP PNG Hunters’loss against the Ipswich Jets on Sunday.
Agreeing to the terms offered by the Sharks, Mexico was in a menacing mood with some great charges up the middle against the Jets.
Mexico’s signing follows on from another Hunter and Kumul player Wellington Albert’s engagement with NRL club the Penrith Panthers early this year.
The Cronulla Sharks needed a big forward with a solid work rate and Mexico although untried on the NRL scene will be jumping out of his skin to prove his worth on the big stage.
PNGRFL CEO Brad Tassell, who was at the centre of the negotiations for both players to ensure the welfare of the players is protected, said it was a deal that gives Mexico the opportunity to play top flight football and expose his talent against the best players in the world.
“It’s a great opportunity for Mark and I know he will grab it with both hands. We have a system put in place where we provide advice and guidance to the players and that includes a recommended player agent in Steve Deacon. What we don’t want and the PNGRFL Board has been very specific about this is several different agents approaching players direct with false promises when they don’t know or understand the culture. This is all new to PNG players and we want to ensure they are given the right advice and guidance. This is simply to look after their interests and so the club knows what is going on with the players, so it doesn’t affect their performances. Steve is on the NRL Accreditation committee for Player Agents and knows the system inside and out. He knows what clubs are looking for and what type of player they may need at different stages of the season. Mark is a perfect example where he had a couple of clubs interested, but Cronulla who recently lost Gallen and have contract issues with Fifita needed a quality prop so Steve approached them and a firm offer was made.
Steve then relayed that offer to management and we sat down with Mark and outlined in detail the offer to ensure he was happy and comfortable with it. He goes with our blessing and we wish him well.”
PNGRFL Chairman Sandis Tsaka echoed Tassell’s statements;
“This is a decision taken by the board and relayed to our CEO that we endorse Steve as our recommended player agent, particularly at this stage of the program. In the next few years this may change but right now we need one person to look after our players and our (PNGRFL) interests. We want to ensure our players are going to the right club and that they are also available for International duties. Steve has taken the time to understand our requirements when no other agent would even look at PNG players. Now we have agents wanting to jump on board, however trust is a big thing with us and this organization and we want to deal with people who do the right thing.”
“I want to congratulate Mark on his signing – this is what the program is all about. Two players have now signed NRL contracts and I have no doubt there will be more. This is why the program was created and this is what we need to do to be more competitive internationally. We hope that by the time the next World Cup arrives we have a large group of players playing in the NRL along with our Hunters team in the Intrust Super Cup. Then we will be able to compete against the top nations.”
Mexico said he was looking forward to the challenge and thanked the SP PNG Hunters and the PNGRFL;
“This is a great program and gives us (players) a chance to show our talents to NRL scouts. Without the Hunters, the structure and the professional approach we wouldn’t have that opportunity. I am very thankful to the PNGRFL for getting the Hunters in the Intrust Super Cup competition and the way the program is managing the players and developing them to an international standard. If you ask every player in the country what they want, 100% would say the pathway now created is what they want. Its important for our players to see that we can make it to the NRL through the pathway created in PNG. I am looking forward to the challenge with the Sharks and will give it my absolute best. I will still be following the boys and the Hunters keenly and I hope a few more can also step up to the NRL ranks.”