MICHAEL Marum has admitted Papua New Guinea’s entry into the Queensland Cup rugby league competition is starting behind schedule but he said they would be competitive.
PNG was confirmed as one of two expansion teams last week, having first been given conditional approval in August.
The long-time Agmark Gurias mentor and PNG Kumuls assistant coach was appointed by the PNG Rugby Football league for the team it its inaugural season.
He told Radio New Zealand International this week it would be an exciting step forward for him and the sport in PNG.
“I’ve always been coaching the PNG local sides here, and I feel I need to improve a bit on my coaching again.,” Marum said.
With March 1 a short 12 weeks away there are concerns PNG’s foray into the competition will be rushed.
“Within the next three weeks we have to come up with a final squad, and then those are the guys that we’ll have to work with again before we play our first two trial games here,” Marum said.
“All our players are locally based from different competitions. I think the championships that were done towards the end of this year has got some players in it. Schoolboys rugby league has got a squad, as well, and also players from the Digicel Cup competition.
Marum, who is a former Kumul captain and played at the 2000 World Cup in England, said there would be at least 12 Kumuls in the team.
He said agreed that the impact on his squad with having to play 26 rounds of a higher standard of football would largely be positive, not just for the players but the fans as well.
“I think it’s going to create big interest here. I think we can’t wait to have that first home game. Probably we’ll have good support for that and I think there’s a lot of talk around the country already.”
After the turmoil the PNG Rugby Football League went through from 2008 to 2011 with court battles by competing factions of the leadership, Marum said having a five-year plan headed by Mal Meninga and Adrian Lam was a step in the right direction.
“We just have to be positive about the whole thing. I think the PNGRFL has been working closely with Mal and Adrian in making sure we don’t do things separately. And that’s one of the things we’ll have to sit down again and discuss and make sure we’ve got that understanding.”
Marum would not be drawn into predicting the side’s fortunes in its debut year but said the focus would be on improving quality in all areas of the game.
“We’re going to play our best, do our best during all our games. We’ll probably just concentrate on working out and turning up and playing. And the results probably will come later. But the first three games, just prepare the boys as much as we can and allow them to go and play. And we know once we put them through proper training and everything else that they’ll probably give the results we want,” Marum said.
The PNG team will play their home matches at Kalabond oval in Kokopo, East New Britain, with their first trial match against the Northern Pride in February and their competition debut away to the Redcliffe Dolphins on March 2. 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