ENTHUSIASTIC support by Western Highlands rugby league fans have earned them an international match featuring overseas-based Kumuls and their home-grown colleagues.
The fans will get to see in person, some of the regular NRL personalities they have only seen on television including sensational Gold Coast Titans winger David Mead was among a host of international Kumuls arriving back in the country for the Telikom Place of Origin selection trials.
They will go head to head against the home-based Rait Prepaid Telikom PNG resident Kumuls on Saturday at the Kagamuga Showgrounds in Mt Hagen.
National coach Adrian Lam yesterday said former Kumuls Mark Mom would take charge of the Resident Kumuls, while Jim Wilson would coach the International side.
Lam said six players in the Residents’ side would be making their debut in the match on Saturday.
“This concept allows for PNG selectors to have a wider scope of options to select the best from the talent that is available,” the coach, who instigated this concept three years ago, told reporters during a press conference.
The previous two matches that were played were won by the International side.
He is tipping the PNG Residents to provide a sterner test for the Internationals this time around, basing his hunch on the improved PNG Resident Kumuls’ international performances.
The International side have retained the services of John Wilshire, Keith Peters, Tu Maori, Rod Griffin and Mead.
Missing are Stanley Gene and Makali Aizue, out with personal commitment and injuries respectively.
However, Lam said both Gene and Aizue would be considered for the Pacific Cup selection on their own merits.
“It will boil down to the performances of the players this weekend,” he said.
Wilson said he was banking on Wilshire, Peters and Mead to lead a young International side.
Meanwhile, the Resident Kumuls have made a few changes to the line-up announced last Friday.
Masta Mak Rangers’ speedster Ham Tee replaces Michael Mark, who is not available for the Telikom place of Origin clash.
Toyota Mioks’ halfback Mai Tom will be also playing a key role in the side, which was boosted by the inclusion of England-based duo of centre Menzie Yere and hooker Charlie Wabo.
The two teams will train together for three days this week in Port Moresby before they break camp and travel to Hagen for the match.
Xcess Telikom International PNG Kumuls: David Mead, Ryan Tongia, Andrew Rockerth, Joe Bond, John Wilshire, Keith Peters, Tu Maori, Jason Chang, Jay Aston, James Nightingale, Tyson Martin, Merv O’Falanagan, Rod Griffin, Anthony Cheng, Jack Cooper, Tom Butterfield and Kevin Prior.
Rait Pre Paid Telikom Resident PNG Kumuls: Emmanuel Uki, Ham Tee, Anton Kui, Menzie Yere, Elizah Riyong, Dion Aiye, Mai Tom, Rodney Pora, Charlie Wabo, Kerry Tapako, Glen Nami, Sigfreid Gande, Larsen Marape, George Moni, Simon Young, Jessie Joe Parker, Benjamin John Tomben and Francis Ray.