On a visit to Rarotonga over Easter, Lowe caught up with local league officials and was among a large and vocal crowd at a premier men’s match between the Tupapa Panthers and the Ngatangiia Sea Eagles.
The intense game was followed by a raft of criticism against the match referee both on social media and through the CI News smoke signals columns.
However, Cook Islands Rugby League president Charles Carlson questions if the critics were in fact watching the same game as the visiting legendary coach, who has nothing but positive comments to make about the calibre of the game and officials.
“I was very impressed with the standard of the game here in the Cook Islands,” says Graham.
“Even I was impressed with the referee who did an excellent job on the day in controlling the game.”
Graham was also very pleased with the status of rugby league in the Cook Islands.
“Listen, if there’s anything I can do to help out with the development of the game let me know,” he said. His comments are certainly welcome positive feedback for CIRL who have been under the pump recently to improve referees’ skills. That’s especially the case now, with the club competition on its final round to the playoffs,
“Well, it is great and also refreshing to hear such compliment from a very well respected coach instead of getting criticised all the time,” says Carlson.
“So to hear a clown criticise the same ref shows you how very little these people know about the game.”
Lowe also managed to catch up with one of his legendary players, Kevin Iro who he coached during his days with the New Zealand Kiwis and Manly. The club league competition is heating up as teams put everything on the line for a top four finish and the chance to play for the 2015 championship title.