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Marum pulls no punches

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PAPUA New Guinea Prime Minister’s 13 coach Michael Marum admits his side faces an uphill battle more so now than ever after Australia coach Mal Meninga picked a near test-strength 18-man squad for their Sept 24 fixture.
Marum pulled no punches in his assessment of the Australians who will be captained by South Sydney and Queensland Origin star Greg Inglis.
“That’s a test side they’re bringing up. Unlike in previous years where they’d pick a few first choice Kangaroos and have young guys and other fringe representative players, the side Mal has picked is pretty much full strength,” Marum said.
With the annual Four Nations tournament next month in England, Meninga has chosen to throw his best side possible against PNG along with a few bolters into the mix to run them in the PM’s 13 clash with the proviso that some are playing for their Kangaroos spots when they run out on the National Football Stadium.
“We expected him (Meninga) to name a strong side with the Four Nations on next month. It’s obvious he’s using this match as a trial for his players.
“They’re a big side in experience, size and speed. They’ve got guys with long NRL, test and Origin expereince and they’re top class all over the park.”
Of the side, only Mitchell Moses and Moses Mbye have not played a senior representative match before.
Compounding the host’s chances, Marum said his side could be without David Mead and Nene Macdonald as he was waiting confirmation from them on their availability.
“It’s 50-50 with David (Mead) and Nene (Macdonald).
“We’ll know by tomorrow (Thursday) whether they can play for us or not.
“With some luck they’ll be able to play but we’ve got players in the squad to come in for them, although it would be great to have them.”
Marum said his squad’s job was to gel togther in the time available and put on a credible performance against the best side in the world.
“We’re really going to have to work hard. We’ve got different players with different combinations and we’ve got to get everything together in a week,” the 42-year-old said.
“Basically it’s about concentrating on our game and not worrying about their side,” he said of the side which assembles on Saturday in Port Moresby.
The Kumuls coach confirmed he had retained the same staff from the last test earlier in the year.
Marum, who guided the Kumuls to a 24-22 win over Fiji in May, promised his side would not make it easy for Australia.
“We’re going to compete against them,” an adamant Marum said.
“I don’t want to put too much pressure on the boys and what we’re up against but we are going to go out there and do the country proud.”

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