By ISAAC LIRI
YOUNG half Lachlan Lam and forward Moses Meninga have been handed starting roles in Kumuls coach Michael Marum’s line up for Sunday’s rugby World Cup match against the US.
Lam, 19, who is following the footsteps of his father and Kumul great Adrian Lam, replaces chief playmaker Ase Boas who is being rested on medical advice to be fit for a possible quarterfinal against England on Nov 19.
With Papua New Guinea all but assured of a finals berth, Marum has rang in the changes with Meninga set to fill in at prop — a position he has not played in at club level.
Lam becomes Kumul No.283 while Meninga is No.284.
Prop Wellington Albert was ruled out of the match with an ankle injury which will take at least two weeks to recover from, which means he will not get to play again unless the Kumuls make the semifinals.
In another unconventional selection, the Kumuls will take a light bench into the match against the Tomahawks with Marum opting for just one forward — Nixon Putt — earning his second test cap while Kurt Baptiste, Stargroth Amean and Thompson Teteh make up the rest of the reserves.
“We got young Lam for his debut and he’ll be starting at five-eighth this week and also starting at front row will be Moses Meninga,” Marum said.
“We’ve reshuffled the side a bit and we brought in Thompson Teteh and Nixon Putt on the bench there so Enoch Maki and Stanton Albert are not in the 17 for this weekend’s game.”
“This time I’m going with speed on the bench and that is the whole reason why we got Thompson, Nixon and Stargroth on along with Kurt.
“We just want to use our speed now rest our big boys. Stanton Albert and Enoch Maki played well last weekend but there were some errors in their game and they know what to improve on. But if these boys named in the starting line-up this weekend play and play well, there is a chance of them playing again next week.
“We are looking at pushing up the young players as well and that’s where Lachlan Lam, pictured, comes in.
“We might probably have some more test matches again next year so for those players to gain experience now is important because it will help in the long run, and if we do need Lachlan again for future games, he is young and he’s only 19.
“Nixon and Moses also deserve a chance so we can keep track of them so that we have a good mix of players for the future,” Marum added.
“Ase Boas has been named on the extended bench but we’ll see how we go in training this week.
“Upon advice from our medical team especially the physio Simon Morris, Ase is better off having a rest this weekend to prepare him for the quarterfinals so we are only going by the medical advice we’ve got,” Marum said.
Despite the changes Marum said he was not underestimating the US who are yet to register a win in the tournament, but is more focused on giving all his players game time.
“We are not going to take USA lightly, the boys we’ve included in the side have been waiting too long to play and they have been training really hard for the past month, they’re all looking forward to play and we spoke about everyone playing before finals and that’s just what we’re trying to do.”
Another change in the team will see James Segeyaro in the starting line-up ahead of Kurt Baptiste who started in the No.9 jersey last week.
“We just rotating the dummy half, we started off with Wartovo in the first game, we started Kurt last week and now we going to start with James, so after this week we’ll decide who among the three will start in the quarterfinal.
“Our hookers are experienced, they are our main playmakers and it’s quite hard for me sometimes when I’m picking but we have to look at how we want to play against sides.
“The US were beaten badly by Fiji and Italy so they’ll want to finish their tournament well and we can’t lose focus on that match, we have to go out there and beat them,” Marum said.
Kumuls: 1. David Mead (c) 2. Justin Olam 3. Kato Ottio 4. Nene Macdonald 5. Garry Lo 6. Lachlan Lam 7. Watson Boas 8. Moses Meninga 9. James Segeyaro 10. Luke Page 11. Rhys Martin 12. Willie Minoga 13. Paul Aiton; Reserves: 14. Kurt Baptiste 15. Stargroth Amean 16. Nixon Putt 17. Thompson Teteh 18. Rod Griffin 19. Wartovo Puara Jr 20.Enock Maki 21. Ase Boas.
By ISAAC LIRI