Meeting for the first time in history this Saturday afternoon, Papua New Guinea and Fiji will do battle as part of a triple-header on the Gold Coast, with all players involved no doubt keen to prove themselves on the rare, international stage.
After reaching the finals of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, Fiji were defeated 32-16 by a classy Samoa side in their one-off encounter this time last year and will be desperate to stake their claim as a Pacific heavyweight once more.
Rick Stone’s side come into the match with plenty of NRL experience — including several in-form try-scorers — and will seemingly have too much talent for their opponents on the night.
But let’s not be so quick to discount the Kumuls just yet.
What the Mal Meninga-coached side may lack in NRL experience, their performance a few months back when they defeated Tonga 32-18 suggests that there’s more to the PNG side than meets the eye. Look the likes of Luke Page and Nene Macdonald, who are on the fringes of consistent club selection, to step up on the day, and potentially lead the Kumuls to their first international win since the Pacific Cup Final against the Cook Island in 2009.
Date — Saturday, May 2, 2015
Time — 5:35pm AEST
Venue — Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
TV and Live Stream Information
TV — Live via Fox Sports 1 (check local guides)
Live Stream — Live via NRL’s Digital Pass, Foxtel Go (subscription required)
Referee — Matt Cecchin
Touch Judges — Jeff Younis and Chris Sutton
Video Referees — Bernard Sutton and Luke Patten
Last Time They Met — N/A
Saturday will mark the first time that these two sides have played each other.
Updated Team Lists
1. Kevin Naiqama 2. Marika Koroibete 3. Fabian Goodall 4. Brayden Williame 5. Eto Nabuli 6. Darryl Millard 7. Ryan Millard 8. Eloni Vunakece 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Jason Bukaya 12. Jacob Safiti 13. Korbin Sims (Interchange: 14. Tyrone Phillips 15. Viliame Kikau 16. Tikio Koke 17. Osea Sadrau 18. Timoci Ratulolo Dabea).
PBG Kumuls (in alphabetical order)
Stanton Albert, Wellington Albert, Ase Boas, Josh Damen, Israel Eliab, Adam Korave, Nene Macdonald, Rhyse Martin, Tyson Martin, Willie Minoga, Kato Ottio, Luke Page, Brandy Peter, Wartovo Puara, Esau Siune, Thompson Teteh, Ray, Thompson, Lawrence Tu'u, Noel Zeming.
Wests Tigers in Action
Kevin Naiqama — Coming off a recent contract extension and a man-of-the-match performance against the Bulldogs in Round 8, Naiqama will be looking to continue his good form on Saturday night. Despite playing on the wing all season, Naiqama will move back to fullback for the match, which should only mean good things for the 26-year-old, as he should both touch the ball more and pose a threat on both sides of the field.