By MELTON PAIS
THIS year’s Prime Minister’s 13 match between Papua New Guinea and Australia presents a different scenario, unlike recent years.
Previously, it was always the Australians fielding a side comprising NRL talent and the next generation of Kangaroos while the PNGRFL opted to run a side with Digicel Cup talent and one or two PNG-based Kumuls.
This year it is all different with the National Gaming Control Board PNG PM’s 13 comprising the country’s best talent from the Q-Cup, NRL and Super League.
Speaking at a media conference yesterday, Australian PM’s 13 captain Daly Cherry-Evans admitted his side were up against one of the best PNG sides assembled.
Cherry-Evans singled out PNG captain David Mead, vice-captain James Segeyaro and Nene Macdonald as the players who would step up for the home side.
The Queensland half said PNG resembled the Kumuls side that played at last year’s World Cup.
Evans thanked coach Mal Meninga for giving him the opportunity to play and be captain.
Coach Meninga said the match was a genuine trial.
He said he had a few junior Kangaroos in the squad who would gain from the experience but he was taking no chances including a big pack with five props – David Klemmer, Aaron Woods, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Matt Prior and Jordan McLean.
“As you all know, we have other tests against New Zealand and Tonga at the end of this month but I consider this game as a genuine trial to put some of the players picked for the trial match coming up,” Meninga said.
“We’ve got two test matches to consider after the PM’s 13 game.”
In last year’s PM’s 13, Meninga said the PNG side was not its best and they found it easier but this time it would be harder as the PNG side was much better.
He said the annual PM’s 13 fixture had grown to include a women’s match and a junior match between the two countries and the sides took part in a programme of activities before the match.
The teams are involved in a series of public events raising awareness on the gender-based violence as well as school and hospital visits.
PNG coach Michael Marum described the match-up as an opportunity to showcase their players against Australia.
“I see this as an opportunity to showcase some of our new players who have never worn the red, black and gold jersey that they can show us what they’ve got to be named in the Kumuls squad in the coming internationals against the England Knights at the end of this month,” Marum said.
Today, the Australian and PNG sides including the women’s teams (Orchids and Australian PM’s 13 women’s side) will take part in a League Bilong Laif clinic at the Koroboro and Port Moresby International Schools.
Fixtures: Sat, Oct 6 – (12.30pm)PNG U16 v NSW Country U16, (2pm) PNG Orchids v Australian PM’s 13 women, (4.40pm) PNG PM’s 13 v Australian PM’s 13.
By MELTON PAIS