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Marum Coaching Masterclass for PNG Kumuls

Commentary by Fraser Liu  

Looking at the Kumul team selected to play USA, I am trying to understand what Marum’s brilliant analytical Rugby League mind is deliberating - and I like what I see. With this team, his intent leans towards 5 main purposes:

1. BLOOD THE ENTIRE SQUAD – Affording gametime to the few players in the squad who have not played yet. This is positive for the player, the Coach, and the team. Each becomes a part of the campaign and more importantly all players have a chance to prove themselves before the quarter-final. Hence Lam, Meninga, Put and Tetehe have that opportunity.

2. REST PLAYERS WHO MAY CARRY INJURIES – That would be glaringly obvious with the exclusion of Ase Boas. Lachlan Lam a halfback by preference plays at five-eight with Watson Boas remaining at 7. Most expected Lam at half-back with Ase Boas on his outside guiding him on his debut. This is not the case, as a fully fit Ase Boas is more important in Melbourne next week. This leads to the next point.

3. MOST POSITIONS ARE SET - The interesting decision by the Coach in naming the halves, clearly demonstrates that Watson Boas is the Kumul Half-Back, period. Suggestions that Segeyaro may be used in that role in the finals are only speculation. Watson is the only No. 7 to play all 3 games and will most definitely do so in the finals. Similarly for Fullback, Wingers and Centres. The players in positions 1 – 5 have not changed for all 3 games, despite having Amean (Fullback/Wing) and Teteh (Centre) available. Likewise for the Backrow (11,12 and 13) and Front Row (Page remains and Albert injured). Basically, MM has a Starting 13 and is sticking by it throughout all 3 games. This is a deliberate and brilliant approach, as combinations and teamwork, need GAME-TIME to establish and blossum.

4. HOOKER POSITION REMAINS UNCLEAR – The dummy-half role is the only position in the starting 13 that has been named with a different player in each of our 3 games. With the wealth of hookers in the Kumuls team, this is not a surprise. Against Wales, 4 dummy-halfs were used and our attack went rampant. A four-pronged attack that took the defence apart on multiple fronts like a 4 headed Hydra. Exceptional, unique and beautiful to watch. But like most such things of rare beauty – they usually happen only once in a person’s lifetime. It is unlikely we will see that happen again. Rugby League belongs to big men, dominating the middle and the ruck – setting the platform for faster outside men to finish off and at times smaller darting players to take advantage of tiring defences towards the dying minutes. Too many little men on the field at once is not a recipe for success against bigger, stronger, faster opposition. Too many cooks, does spoil the soup. Now in our easiest match (USA), our most accomplished hooker has been named. This would normally be the other way around. Marum has given Puara, Baptiste and now Segeyaro equal opportunity. They are all good players, but whether or not they can play well in THIS Kumul team and most importantly coordinate well with the (already set) players at the business end of the tournament is the question I believe our Super Coach is asking them.

5. THE MAN – HAS A PLAN! – The starting 13 has been sealed since the first kick off it would seem. Griffin missed the games through injury but I am confident he will play in Melbourne if he is fit. Except the number 9, only injury has forced changes on the other positions. I wouldn’t worry about the hooker position, because whichever player Marum selects will do the job as they are all quality dummy-halfs. Seeing the final team selected for the final round game, my respect, love and optimism for our Super Coach and our Kumul Team has risen a thousand fold. This is the most easiest game so far and when lesser coaches would use it as an excuse to chop and change, our Coach is applying aged old wisdom similarly used by Bennet and Bellemy – Keep it Simple. Have a plan, work at it, and if you keep doing it often enough, it will pay off. Despite all the hype, controversy, emotion and suggestive coaching!!! Michael Marum kept quiet, calm and true to his plan. And why shouldn’t he? He has done it with the Gurias, the Hunters and now he will do it with the Kumuls.

8 million people have cast our bets on this man, and we are about to turn the corner for the home stretch. We won our first game without even trying, and we won the second without playing well. Forget Tonga, Somoa and Fiji! The true Darkhorses of the 2017 World Cup have not even started to gallop yet! MARUM’S PNG KUMULS.
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