Acid test for Marum game plans

Normal, Sports

The National, Thursday February 6th, 2014


THE two trials the Hunters play starting on Sunday in Cairns is not only important to test playing combinations as the Papua New Guinea team prepare for their debut in Queensland Rugby League’s Intrust Super Cup competition.

They are equally crucial to get an early insight into what kind of opposition the SP Hunters would be facing in the first few games of their inaugural season.

Coach Michael Marum may seem like a “greenhorn” compared to other coaches in the ISC competition but those who know him will attest that he has good football brains on his shoulders.

Marum has also served his apprentice.

The 40-year-old East New Britain man has been to two World Cups – 2008 in Australia and 2013 to England – as assistant coach to Adrian Lam.

Both did not produce the desired results Papua New Guineans wanted.

But Marum would have learnt plenty from those two tours. He would have seen how Lam guided the Kumuls – formed his own opinions about coaching, adopted the positives and developed his own ideas on how to do things better – if he was in charge and calling the shots.

We do not need to look far for evidence of that. Under Marum’s watch Agmark Gurias has been among the most successful Digicel Cup teams in PNG’s premier rugby league competition. Every year under Marum’s guidance if they did not win the premiership – the Gurias would make the top four.

However, some may argue that the standard of PNG’s national competition is not as high as the ISC.

But Marum has also tested his ability in that group when he guided the Guria’s to a 29-22 upset win over Northern Pride last year in a trial match around this time of the year. The Gurias took a bus on the Bruce Highway and caned Townsville’s James Cook University Saints 54-16 the following weekend.

On Sunday Marum will be plotting Hunters’ opening trial match against the Pride, who reserved their big guns for this Barlow Park clash.