By Staff Reporter : PNG Today
The revamped and expanded annual Pacific Test schedule will see England take on Samoa at Campbelltown Sports Stadium in the main fixture, while the Kumuls will take on the skill and power of the Cook Islands, before traditional rivals Fiji and Tonga battle it out for Pacific ascendency in the penultimate match of the day.
Kumul coach Michael Marum confirmed his side would take on the Cook Islands, whom they had not played in an international since beating them 42-14 in the 2009 Pacific Cup final in Port Moresby.
But Marum said he expected the Cooks to be every bit as tough a challenge as the Fiji Bati had been over the last two years.
“We’re not going to change the way we approach the May Test just because it is a different opponent,” Marum said.
PNG played Fiji in the inaugural Pacific Test in 2015, losing 22-10 before squaring the ledger last year with a 24-22 victory.
“The Cooks are going to be tough because like Fiji, they’ll get most of their players from the NRL and other competitions in Australia.”
The high profile Cook Islands players include Sydney Roosters prop Dylan Napa and Canberra Raiders winger Jordan Rapana, however neither are expected to be available as they have already played for Australia and New Zealand respectively.
Other Cooks players in the NRL that are likely to be involved in the May Test include Alex Glenn, Francis Molo (Brisbane Broncos), Brad Takairangi (Parramatta Eels), Isaac John (Manly Sea Eagles) and Zane Tetevano (Roosters).
Marum said the Kumuls squad would be named at the end of next month and he confirmed that only PNG and Australia-based talent would be considered because of the timeframe/logistics involved.
“We’ll name the squad on April 30 and we’ll only consider PNG and Australia-based players like the last two Pacific Tests because of the preparation time and costs.”
Marum said the Kumuls squad would also be involved in promotional work (Pacific Rugby League/World Cup) as well while they were in Sydney.
Similar to previous years and with support from Destination NSW, the week leading up to the event will include fan and community activities, school visits from NRL Pacific Ambassadors and the Pacific Youth Summit at Western Sydney University.
“Having six international rugby league teams play at Campbelltown Sports Stadium will allow us to showcase the region and celebrate the cultural contributions Pacific Island communities have made to our neighbourhoods,” Member for Camden Chris Patterson said. – NRL.com