Kumuls get three games

The National, Wednesday July 20th, 2016

PORT Moresby will host three matches in next year’s Rugby League World Cup with the Kumuls set to play two European qualifiers and the USA.
The 2017 World Cup draw will see 28 games played across Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea in four pools.
With the official release of the draw for the October 27 to December 2 tournament yesterday, PNG fans will get a chance to be part of World Cup for the first time since the national team took part in the concept in 1986 with their famous 24-22 win over New Zealand at the then Lloyd Robson Oval on August 17.
The Kumuls under coach Michael Marum, play their first match on October 28 against the top European qualifier and then face the second Euro qualifier on November 5 before taking on the Americans on Nov 12.
All matches are expected to be staged at the National Football Stadium.
PNG are group in pool C with two other Euro qualifiers, who are yet to be confirmed but they will come from a six-nation qualifying process which starts on October 15 and ends on November 5.
There are two qualifying groups, each with three teams, with the winner of each group advancing to the World Cup to join PNG in pool C.
The countries vying for the three European spots at the World Cup are Wales, Serbia, Italy (group A), Russia, Ireland and Spain (group B).
The runner-up in each group will play off for the final World Cup spot with the playoff winner to join Fiji and USA in pool D.
The likely top two finishers are Wales and Ireland while Italy, with several Australian imports in its line-up, is favoured to clinch third spot.
PNG will be overwhelming favourites to win their way to the quarter-finals, for the first time since the 2000 World Cup, with three pool matches at home. The Kumuls have been disappointing in their last few tournaments, but had a morale boosting 24-22 win over Fiji in their mid-year Test are signs they may be back on the rise.
After sinking to an all-time low of 14th place in the International Rugby League Federation rankings in 2015, this year’s win over the Bati helped propel the Kumuls to 11th place, and next year’s tournament is seen as a golden opportunity to make headway into the top 10.
Qualifying: Oct 15 – Wales vs Serbia, Russia vs Spain; Oct 22  – Serbia vs Italy, Spain vs Ireland; Oct 29 – Italy vs Wales; Oct 30 – Ireland vs Russia; Nov 5 (Playoff) – 2A vs 2B