Hard road ahead – Tough Cup pool for Kumuls

Normal, Sports

The National, Wednesday 03rd April 2013

 THE Kumuls are no guarantees to finish in the top three of Pool B in October’s Rugby League World Cup in England.

Despite being handed a decidedly easier group than the 2008 edition where PNG had to contend with the sport’s top three countries in Australia, New Zealand and England, Pool B opponents France, Samoa and the Kiwis, at the outset, seemed to pose less of an obstacle to reaching the quarter-finals stage for the first time.

Samoa, who could not even make the 2009 Pacific Cup – they were beaten by Cook Islands in the qualifying stage – are set to assemble a team that could rival New Zealand’s. With Manly’s Steve Matai declaring his allegiance to Samoa this week, National Rugby League’s in-form centre is just another star added to an already impressive list of NRL players opting to follow their Polynesian heritage.

As it stands Samoa’s World Cup stocks have shot up with Roy Asotasi, Jeff Lima, David Fa’alogo, Junior Sau and Ben Roberts already committed to the blue jersey.

Coach Adrian Lam, running the first of several Kumul training camps with newly appointed national coaching director and high performance manager Mal Meninga in Lae, preferred not dwell on the strength of the opposition, instead focusing on what Team Kumuls need to do in order to have the best chance of success.

“At the moment we are only worried about what we can control. Our (World Cup) destiny is in our hands,” Lam said. 

“We have to focus on improving our players in the time available so we have the best possible group for the World Cup.” 

As far as keeping tabs on the opposition goes, Lam said the Kumul staff were aware of the other sides in the tournament and would have plans and strategies worked out for each side they played.

“We know the sides in our pool especially Samoa are stacking up well. 

“France have most of their players in the Super League so it will be a big challenge for us to advance. 

“We will evaluate our opposition and set game plans for them. But our main aim is to be more professional individually and as a team in everything we do in training, fitness, conditioning, strength, rehabilitation and diet,” he said.

With six months before the World Cup, Lam said there were short and long-term goals that would need to be met and with expectations high all members of Team Kumuls were aware of the enormity of the task ahead.