NATIONAL rugby league selectors yesterday announced changes to the PNG Prime Minister’s XIII for this Sunday’s clash against their Australian counterparts in Port Moresby.
The changes were forced by the unavailability of several overseas-based players for the fixture either through injuries or contractual commitments to their clubs.
Chairman of selectors Arnold Krewanty said United Kingdom-based league stars Makali Aizue, Stanley Gene, Charlie Wabo, Menzie Yere, John Wilshire and Michael Mark could not make it to the hit-out against the Kangaroos because of club commitments and injuries.
Krewanty said Toyota Mioks star Kerry Tapako, Queensland-based Tyson Martin, Keith Peters, Tommy Butterfield and Elizah Riyong had been called in as replacements.
PNG Kumuls’ high profile NRL players Neville Costigan (St George Illawarra Dragons), David Mead (Gold Coast Titans) and Paul Aiton (Penrith Panthers) were also notable omissions because of their contractual arrangements with their respective clubs.Mead is also down with an injury, while Aiton is due for reconstructive knee surgery before joining Cronulla Sharks in the new season.
Other Australia-based players Tu Maori, Keith Peters, Rod Griffin and Martin from the Mackay RLFC in the Queensland Cup competition will be flying into the country today with PNG coach Adrian Lam.
Two other members of the PNG team management physiotherapist Matthew Natusch and assistant coach Jim Wilson told a media conference yesterday that training for the team will start in earnest today at the Lloyd Robson Oval.
Meanwhile, Krewanty said PNG’s England-based players will be available for the PNG Origin series later during the month to select the Kumuls for the Pacific Cup next month.
The latest PNG Prime Minister’s XIII to play Australia’s Prime Minister’s XIII on Sunday are:
Anton Kui, Benjamin John, Elizah Riyong, Dion Aiye, George Moni, Glen Nami, Tu Maori, Jessie Joe Parker, Tommy Butterfield, Kevin Frank, Kerry Tapako, Larsen Marabe, Nickson Kolo, Rod Griffin, Rodney Pora, Sigfred Gande, Simon Young, Tyson Martin and Keith Peters.