Blow for PM’s 13


KUMULS David Mead, Nene Macdonald, Ray Thompson and Rhyse Martin will not be play for the Papua New Guinea Prime Minister’s 13 against Australia’s PM’s 13 on Saturday in Port Moresby.
Mead, who captained PNG to a 22-24 win over Fiji in May, will not play due to a finger injury (ligament damage) that may require surgery.
The former Gold Coast Titans star is expected to see a specialist today about the injury suffered in round 21 against the Cronulla Sharks.
According to PNG Rugby Football League chief executive officer Bob Cutmore, the four men are unable to turn out for PM’s 13 side for a variety of reasons.
“David’s in the process of switching clubs and he’s got that injury he needs to attend to so he won’t be coming up,” Cutmore said yesterday. “Nene (moving to Sydney to play for St George Illawarra) is in the similar situation. He’s moving clubs and it’s a hectic time for him coming off a long season.”
Martin, who was signed by the Canterbury Bulldogs earlier this month, has work commitments and is in the process of transitioning from being a Townsville-based part-time player to an NRL professional.
The 23-year-old was named the Intrust Super Cup’s best forward this year and would have been a great inclusion in the PNG back-row, especially after missing the May test.
Cutmore said Thompson was part of the North Queensland Cowboys squad that was in the NRL finals and was not available.
Mounties star Kato Ottio was not picked either because his side were in the NSW Cup finals as was Kurt Baptiste for the Canberra Raiders.
With the Australian PM’s 13 team one of the strongest in recent memory and to be captained by NRL and Origin superstar Greg Inglis, the PNGRFL had named Queensland-based Mead, Macdonald, Thompson, Martin and Willie Minoga of the Townsville Blackhawks as well as seven PNG Hunters  to take on Mal Meninga’s side but the side will only feature PNG-based players.
“We’ll have to do with what we’ve got,” Cutmore said of the squad which assembled yesterday in Port Moresby.
“We’ve got to remember that while this match is important and stands for something, it’s not a test match or a World Cup game.
“It’s a fiendly that we play every year and it’s a fantatsic concept but sometimes professional players have to weigh these things up and if they can’t make it, that’s the way it is. Clubs and careers have to come first,” Cutmore said.
On the back of the Kumuls’ win over Fiji and ahead of their hosting three games of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup next year, excitement in the rugby league-mad nation will reach new heights when the Australian team arrives on Thurday.
Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga is himself someone who is idolised by the people of PNG and Mead says that with the squad he has named the NRL players who have not experienced rugby league in PNG are in for something special.
Ten members of the starting 13 named by Meninga have played either Test or Origin football but there are two players in particular who Mead believes will prove most popular amongst the locals.
“Greg Inglis and Semi Radradra will be the two most popular I’d say,” said Mead, who has played seven Tests for PNG.
“Papua New Guineans love their rugby league and those two are huge names up there so I’m sure everyone will be really excited to see them running out.
“There are plenty of Origin players there and it’s going to be a huge test for the PNG boys up there but I’m sure the boys will turn up and put everything into the game,” Mead said.

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