Defence vital

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TELIKOM PNG Prime Minister’s XIII have been urged in no uncertain terms to be wary of Wests Tigers play-maker Robbie Farah’s capabilities in Sunday’s international friendly match with the Australian PM’s XIII at the Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby.
Coach Adrian Lam warned his players that Farah has an uncanny knack for dictating and setting play for his teammates and the boys should keep a close watch on him.
Lam has been very vocal all week stressing the need for tight defence throughout the week’s training.
He said Farah was dangerous around the rucks and that that aspect of his game will be on show against the Papua New Guineans.
Farah will be assisted by Queensland Maroons star and Cowboys’ halfback Johnathan Thurston in calling the shots for the Aussies.
If these two are not kept under constant close scrutiny, the Australians are bound to run riot over their PNG opponents on Sunday.
The PNG side is debuting a number of players lacking international experience at this level in Kevin Frank, Kerry Tapako, Siegfried Gande, Glen Nami, Tommy Butterfield and Dion Aiye.
Up against NRL ‘icons, experiences from the past have shown that the PNG’s players are often awestruck by their Australian opponents, but this respect is often dispelled after first 10 minutes of play.
Lam told The National yesterday that PNG’s hope of a rare victory against the Australians is to put up a brick wall defence during the entire 80 minutes of football.
The coach told his troops to play a flamboyant brand of football but “be responsible with more emphasis on ball security and a full-hearted defence”.
Meanwhile, the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII coach Mal Meninga believes Sunday’s clash will go a long way towards deciding front row selections for the Kangaroos’ European touring squad.
With incumbent prop Petero Civoniceva recovering from injury and his partner Steve Price already ruled out of the Gillette Four Nations tour, the race for spots up front is wide open.
Meninga said the Prime Minister’s XIII front rowers David Shillington, Matthew Scott, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, George Rose and Nate Myles could all press their claims with solid performances on Sunday.
“Obviously you’ve got the guys still playing finals in contention but I think the guys in our side are well aware they are in the frame for the Kangaroos,” Meninga said.
The PNG PM”s XIII: Fullback Jessie Joe Parker, wings Kevin Frank and Elijah Riyong, centres Anton Kui and Larsen Marabe,  five-eighth Dion Aiye, half-back Keith Peters, forwards Rodney Pora, Benjamin John, Nickson Kolo, George Moni, Siegfried Gande, and Rodney Griffin. Subs are Simon Young, Glen Nami, Tommy Butterfield, Tyson Martin, Kerry Tapako. Coach is Adrian Lam.
Australia PM’s XIII: Josh Dugan, Michael Robertson, Michael Jennings, Joel Monaghan, David Williams, Terry Campese, Jonathan Thurston, David Shillington, Robbie Farah, Matt Scot, Trent Waterhouse, Luke O’Donnell, Glen Stewart, Chris Heighington, Nate Myles, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, George Rose and Ben Jones. Coach is Mal Meninga.