By HUXLEY LOVAI
THE Kumuls returned home yesterday from Fiji following their impressive performance during the Pacific Tri-Nations over the weekend.
Coach Michael Marum said the fixtures which involved PNG, Australia and hosts Fiji, provided an invaluable hit-out for the team.
“We basically now have a fair idea of which players are probably starting in our first game in the World Cup against Wales on Oct 28. The matches were important to trial centres and wingers out there,” Marum said.
“We were mainly looking at combinations between players. This Tri-Nations allowed us to try out players in various positions, some boys played in two or three positions and that is what we were looking for.”
The defensive efforts by the Kumuls were outstanding as PNG managed to muscle up in defence up the middle of the field.
“I was really impressed with our defence. We defended four back-to-back sets against the Kangaroos. We still have a lot of work to do, they scored two quick tries on the edges. That’s something we need to work on,” Marum said
On the injury front, Ase Boas picked up a knee injury in the first match against Fiji which saw the five-eighth missing the game against Australia.
In his place, Lachlan Lam made his international debut in the halves.
“Lachlan Lam really stood out. He played 10 minutes into the match against Fiji and played the whole 40 minutes against the Kangaroos.
“He played well in the match against Australia, I had positive comments from Australian coach Mal Meninga and his father Adrian.
“Hopefully with one or two more games, and a few more training runs together he will combine well with Ase, Watson (Boas) and Wartovo (Puara Jr),” Marum said
The absence of Boas also saw the Kumuls kicking duties fall to forward Rhyse Martin, who despite not converting any of PNG’s tries, remains one of the team’s leading contenders for the kicking duties.
Another notable absence was that of James Segeyaro who was ruled out of action on the weekend following a consultation with the Cronulla Sharks physio who advised against the hooker playing in the Tri-Nations.
“Every player in the squad had a run over the weekend except for James Segeyaro, he was advised by the Cronulla Sharks physio not to participate in last weekend’s games.
“Even though he was disappointed I explained to him that bigger games were coming up, and it was better not to risk him.”
Marum said apart from Ase, Nene Macdonald was the only other player nursing an injury in his case a sore knee, otherwise the rest of the team had pulled up injury free.
“Hopefully Paul Aiton will join the squad on Thursday, he just finished off his club commitments (Catalan Dragons). I’ll speak to the PNGRFL board and chief executive to brief them about why he didn’t join the camp earlier. But he will be here by the end of the week.
“We’ll allow the boys two days off to spend time with their families, and by Friday we will come back into camp and start preparations.”
By HUXLEY LOVAI