AN IMPRESSED Papua New Guinea Prime Minster XIII’s head coach Mal Meninga put his team through its paces yesterday during a morning training session at the Kalabond Oval, Kokopo.
Meninga, who joined the side on Monday, said he was impressed and excited with the change in the players after his last involvement with the same fixture last year.
“I’m very happy with the progress and the development of the players now for the last 12 months, to this time last year,” Meninga said.
“I think that their heaps prepared.
A lot fitter and a lot more knowledgeable about the game. The Hunters season has been really good, and I’m very confident that this time we’ll put in a much better performance against the Australians.
“Again a very, very good side” a clearly impressed Meninga said.
“I’m excited about them (players). They’re fairly young and I’m imagining their progress over the next couple of years.”
The 54-year-old Queensland Origin coach said the weekend’s match would provide his players a rare chance to test themselves against the best.
Meninga, who is the Team Kumul programme director, said the long term goal was the 2017 World Cup but that would start with every player picked in the PM’s XIII and the other representative teams maintaining their high standards and developing as professional players.
“There are opportunities to take another step and build to the next World Cup. I’m hoping that they keep improving the way they are over the two or three years.
On the match against Laurie Daley’s Australian side, Meninga said his men needed to play hard and not be intimidated.
“I just want effort, I want our boys to stand up, be courageous, execute their skill, show the rugby league fraternity how good they are, and how far they have developed over the last 12 months under the Hunters programme,” he said.
“I’m excited about the team. I’m very pleased with their progress, as players and as people, they are heading in the right direction which is great.
“I’m expecting a spirited performance and the boys need to give their best, no matter what’s happening in their game. It’s all about attitude.”
Meninga said PNG’s game plan would centre on having good direction from its halves.
The Hunters pair of Roger Laka and Dion Aiye has the most important job in controlling the sets and taking the right options and kicking well.
“I have already been in the PNG system for nearly two years now and I know the players and the coaching staff and everyone involved has been working really hard,” Meninga said.
“Michael (Marum) and his staff have worked well to improve the players in the basics like how to control ruck speed, the execution of sets, the way we really need to finish up in tackles and all those little things that you need to get right in the game. We have improved but we need to be get better.” Meninga said no team was perfect or unbeatable and even the best Australian side could be tested and beaten.
Meninga maintained that the players can always do better but he said that the progress is really looking good citing the Under 19’s success in the Inaugural commonwealth tournament.
Meninga said of the national junior side, the U20s, had proven with their success at the inaugural Commonwealth Nines earlier this year, that PNG had the talent to be a top ranked country. The PNG team plus the captain will be announced today. The National
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Downer Rugby League 9s World Cup
- PNG Kumuls 0 Australia 26
- PNG Kumuls 18 New Zealand Kiwis 18
- PNG Kumuls 23 USA Tomahawks 10
Pacific Test Results
201 9 - PNG Kumuls 28 Great Britain Lions 10
2019 - Fiji Bati 22 PNG Kumuls 20
2019 - PNG Kumls 6 Samoa 24
2018 - PNG Kumuls 26 Fiji Bati 14
2017 - PNG Kumuls 32 Cook Islands 22
2016 - PNG Kumuls 24 Fiji Bati 22
2015- Fiji Bati 22 PNG Kumuls 22
World Cup Results
Round 1 : PNG Kumuls 50 Wales 6
Round 2: PNG Kumuls 14 Ireland 6
Round 3 PNG Kumuls 64 USA 0
Quarter Finals : PNG Kumuls 6 England 36