'Spots up for grabs': PM's XIII clash a final chance for Kumuls selection
Kumuls coach Stanley Tepend has declared that players in Sunday's Prime Minister's XIII clash at Suncorp Stadium could force their way into the PNG World Cup squad.
Tepend has named a 20-man squad to go into camp in Brisbane on Wednesday, which includes just eight players from June's Pacific Test win against Fiji due to finals commitments.
However, Tepend said the match against the Australian PM's XIII was a real opportunity for players to put their best foot forward for selection in the World Cup squad.
“I will be looking at the new players coming into this game, with each of them a genuine chance at making it into the World Cup squad," Tepend said.
"We have spots available, and this is their opportunity to prove that no matter what we face or what situation we are put in, we rise together.
"We will be coming up against a good Australian team and playing at the best rugby league stadium. So, it’s important for this group of boys to not let the occasion get to them but play the way we want to.”
Papua New Guinea will lean on a solid defensive structure, showcased against Fiji, with a close-knit group of players from the Queensland Cup, including Central Queensland Capras trio Zev John, Nixon Putt and Mckenzie Yei.
Photo: Kyle Laybutt is one of eight players from the Pacific Test (NRL Photos)
“These eight did their job against Fiji and that’s why they have been given another opportunity at this level," Tepend said.
"Playing Australia in this match will be no different. Every player selected was the best we could pick considering all the clashing finals on same weekend and injuries to key players recently were factors out of our control during this selection process.
"However, we hope to carry on from what we built in the Pacific Test and give our boys a competitive hit-out before the World Cup squad is announced.
Tepend has also injected new blood from PNG's Digicel Cup into the squad, with the in-form Leon Undupia (Mendi Muruks) a standout player in the competition. Players from the Agmark Gurias and Hela Wigman were unavailable due to their involvement in the final.
PNGRFL CEO Stanley Hondina, on behalf of the PNGRFL Board, congratulated the team and commended Tepend and his support staff for the great work done.
“We have every confidence in the team and know they will do us proud on Sunday,” Mr Hondina said
“We also extend our appreciation to the NRL and DFAT for hosting this event, especially after what has been a tough three years with not much international football.
"This game is bigger than just football, it’s about our shared heroes and history, bilateral relationships and most importantly the people-to-people connection we have that is even stronger with this sport.”
“Our domestic partners in PNGLNG, Digicel, KPHL, NGCB and BSP, without your support this wouldn’t be possible and PNGRFL is greatly indebted by that."
PNG Men’s PM’s XIII (alphabetical):
Keven APPO (PNG Hunters), Edene GEBBIE (Townsville Blackhawks), Zev JOHN (Central Qld Capras), Epel KAPINIAS (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Francis KISH (PNG Hunters), Kyle LAYBUTT (Townsville Blackhawks), Sylvester NAMO (PNG Hunters), Jimmy NGUTLIK (Western Suburbs Magpies), Brandon NIMA (PNG Hunters) Wartovo PUARA (PNG Hunters), Nixon PUTT (Central Qld Capras), Judah RIMBU (PNG Hunters), Dan RUSSELL (Brisbane Tigers), Rodrick TAI (PNG Hunters), Sherwin TANABI (PNG Hunters), Cruise TEN (Souths Logan), Wesser TENZA (PNG Hunters), Leon UNDUPIA (Mendi Muruks), Emmanuel WAINE (PNG Hunters), Mckenzie YEI (Central Qld Capras).
Australian Men’s PM’s XIII:
Daine Laurie (Wests Tigers), Josh Addo-Carr (Canterbury Bulldogs), Selwyn Cobbo (Brisbane Broncos), Zac Lomax (St George Illawarra Dragons), Jojo Fifita (Gold Coast Titans), Matt Burton (Canterbury Bulldogs), Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles), Tino Fa'asuamaleaui (Gold Coast Titans), Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons), Thomas Flegler (Brisbane Broncos), Nat Butcher (Sydney Roosters), Angus Crichton (Sydney Roosters), Josh King (Melbourne Storm). Res: Max King (Canterbury Bulldogs), Beau Fermor (Gold Coast Titans), Jake Simpkin (Wests Tigers), Luke Garner (Wests Tigers), Josh Curran (Warriors), Jake Averillo (Canterbury Bulldogs), Sam Walker (Sydney Roosters).