Papua New Guinea have announced their team for the upcoming World Cup, with three changes to their squad. Head coach Stanley Tepend has also announced the return of Alex Johnston, who has been suspended for the first two matches of the tournament. He has been capped 15 times by the Kumuls and is expected to play centre. He was the star of the side when they beat Fiji 24-14 in June.
He is expected to make his debut tomorrow. He also played against the Australian PM’s XIII in September. He said the game against the Kangaroos was a learning experience. He hopes to play in the NRL or Super League in the future.
Papua New Guinea’s squad includes NRL players, including Alex Johnston, who was the top try scorer for the Titans in 2018. He has played 15 Tests for the Kumuls and is expected to play at centre. But he isn’t set to play the final Test against Fiji next week.
PNG lost to Tonga in the opening pool match of the tournament. It was a game of great contrasts. In the first half, Tonga led 18-6. The Kumuls scored two tries within the first 12 minutes. Rhys Martin scored a try and Rhyse Martin converted it for a 12-0 lead. The Dragons were sluggish on the marking front and PNG thrust the ball forward with poor offloads.
In the second half, PNG scored three tries, with Alex Johnston scoring a try, Rhyse Martin converting, and Kyle Laybutt crashing through through a gap. He smashed through red shirts. The Kumuls were on the back foot, but a handling error allowed PNG to off the hook.
Then, in the 70th minute, Jimmy Ngutlik scored a try. Then, in the 77th minute, Keaon Koloamatangi scored a try after the kick. His try came after eight passes. He dived under tackles and finished with acrobatics.
The Papua New Guinea Kumuls have been grouped with Tonga and Wales in the World Cup pool. In a pool where there are only two teams that have never beaten England, PNG are looking for a miracle upset. Their most recent encounter with England, in the RLWC quarter finals in 2017, ended with a 36-6 victory. They believe they can beat anyone on their day and will try to upset the odds.
The two teams meet again on Saturday. The winner will advance to the World Cup final. In the other group game, Tonga will take on Samoa. The winner will play the winner of the other two groups. It’s set to be a great contest between the two.
The PNG Kumuls are expected to make three changes to their team for the Test. They are expected to include NRL players, including Alex Johnston, Lachlan Lam, David Mead and Justin Olam. Lachlan Lam is expected to make his PNG debut in the halves, while the others are expected to play in the back row. David Mead is expected to play centre.