The National, Tuesday 18th September, 2012
By KEITH PUARIA
ADRIAN Lam is buzzing with excitement at the prospect of seeing just how good local rugby league players are.
The former Kumuls skipper and now mentor is in charge of the Prime Minister’s XIII for the clash against an Australian Prime Minister’s XIII on Sunday, and said of his 20-member squad: “I can’t wait to watch to them play together.”
Lam admitted Sunday’s match will be a good indicator of the level of rugby league in the Digicel Cup.
“Definitely a lot of enthusiasm,” he said after a tough training session on Saturday at the Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby.
“This team is purely made up of players from the local NRL (Digicel Cup) competition, and we should be excited.
“How they go against Australia is an opportunity for us to find out if the level of the local semi-professional competition is quality.”
He said his side was young and that this match was an important sign post on the road to next year’s World Cup in England.
“I am excited about the prospects,” the former Sydney Rooster and Queensland State of Origin star said.
His no-nonsense approach to the game means there are still six more gruelling training sessions remaining for the Telikom PNG Prime Minister’s XIII before Sunday’s showdown.
Orientation and Sunday afternoon’s first session was enough for Lam to establish where he thought his new side was at and how much more work needed to be done in less than a week.
As players visibly tired in the final 15 intense minutes of the session with trainer Neil Dunkley, Lam reminded them of the honour of the jersey they were preparing to don in six days.
“You’re not training for your PNG NRL teams anymore,” Lam told his charges after Dunkley’s final whistle.
The final laps of the drill slowly separated the players who had just come out of the cup race from those who got knocked out weeks ago.
But the heart shown was encouraging as it was clear no one was holding back, an attitude needed for what will be a tough challenge against a team of Australian NRL first grade players.
Lam cleared the air on his decision to go without a specialist halfback, opting for Port Moresby Vipers’ utility Israel Eliab in the chief play-making role of number seven.
“The way we play, it doesn’t make a difference whether they are in the six or seven role, they play a similar role,” he said.
“Dion Aiye has been there for a long time and they will be playing similar roles, just on opposite sides of the ruck.”
The side went into camp on Saturday minus Sydney-based Larsen Marabe who arrived yesterday after playing in the Orange Cup grand final (Country NSW) on Sunday.
The team will be guests of sponsor Telikom at a function today.