By ISAAC LIRI
WALES have travelled all across the globe landing on Papua New Guinea soil for nothing else, but to maintain their unbeaten record against the Kumuls, says captain Craig Kopczak.
The 30-year-old who made his international debut against PNG in 2007 in Bridgend where his side thrashed the Kumuls 50-10.
The 193cm, 110kg front-rower was confident his side had the ability to overcome the pressure of playing in unfamiliar territory.
“We’ve got myself and a few others from the Super League and we’ve got a few playing in the lower UK leagues so it’s a bit of a mix but a balanced side,” Kopczak said.
“We’ve come up from Brisbane where we had a good week’s camp acclimatising, and the camp’s been really well and we were just looking forward to the game,” the Salford Reds prop said.
“We want to maintain our good record against PNG and we want to top Pool C and in order to do that we need to win every game starting with PNG.
“I was part of that Wales team in 2007, it was my debut and we beat PNG well. I remember that game really well. It was a very hard and tough game.
“PNG has come a long way since then and have a very talented squad but we’ll go out there and hope to spoil the party.”
Kopczak described the weather in Port Moresby as hot however the side who are ranked ninth in the world had settled in well after a day in the country.
“First time for me here in Port Moresby soon as we jumped off the plane, the heat just hit you straight away and it took us by surprise, we didn’t realise how hot it was actually.
“Coming from Brisbane we thought that was hot but we’ve not experienced something like this before. “After a day the players have settled in now and preparations are going well.
“Hospitality is fantastic and I’d like to say thank you to the organisers for the good treatment,” he said.
Kopczak said it was an honour for him to captain Wales in their first pool game against PNG due to the fact that he debuted against the Kumuls a decade ago.
“For me personally as captain ,it is going to be a huge honour because I debuted against PNG 10 years ago.
“PNG’s co-hosting the World Cup for the first time so it’s going to be a special day for everybody.
“When we went out and about we saw a lot of kids playing rugby league on the streets which is great to see and I think PNG’s got a bright future in rugby league.
“PNG is a real physical side so it’s going to be a huge combat to move them around the park a little bit,” Kopczak said.
The Bradford-born man singled out teammate Morgan Knowles, who played for St Helens last year and has more than 30 Super League games under his belt, as one of the pillars of the side.
He said in terms of excitement winger Reagan Grace was a great scoring threat.
By ISAAC LIRI