Papua New Guinea Kumuls v Great Britain Lions preview

It's been a tough tour for the winless Great Britain and they will be determined to at least salvage some pride in the final Test of the season against Papua New Guinea.

Having scored just 22 points in three games, Lions mentor Wayne Bennett conceded the majority of his squad had regressed since he coached England to a series win over New Zealand last year.

Papua New Guinea, meanwhile, were valiant in a thrilling 22-20 loss to Fiji last Saturday in Christchurch in their first match after a mid-year defeat against Samoa.

The Kumuls have the opportunity to play in front of their adoring fans in Port Moresby where they've hosted Great Britain three times, most recently in 1992.

Lions centre Oliver Gildart, who injured his shoulder earlier in the tour, has been ruled out for 4-5 months and will miss the start of the 2020 Super League season with Wigan.

Match: Papua New Guinea v Great Britain

Round 5 -

Full Time
Papua New Guinea

Home Team

Papua New Guinea

Scored 28 points
Great Britain

Away Team

Great Britain

Scored 10 points

Venue: Oil Search National Football Stadium, Port Moresby

Match broadcasters:

  • Foxtel
  • KAYO
  • GEM

The Rundown

Team News

Papua New Guinea: Alex Johnston, Rhyse Martin, Justin Olam, Luke Page, Kyle Laybutt and Wellington Albert are again set to lead the way as the only Kumuls players with NRL and/or Super League games to their names.

Great Britain: Star second-rower John Bateman is free to play after being placed on report for a high tackle in the 23-8 loss to the Kiwis, with the international match review panel imposing a 50-point penalty but no suspension. Leeds flyer Ash Handley has joined the squad but has not been named in the 17-man line-up. Blake Austin, who made numerous errors out of position while filling in in for the injured Zak Hardaker last week, has retained his position on the wing. Hardaker, who has been named in the reserves, may also push to play with his shoulder complaint not thought to be serious.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Papua New Guinea is number 1 Alex Johnston
    Fullback for Great Britain is number 1 Jonny Lomax
  • Winger for Papua New Guinea is number 2 Edene Gebbie
    Winger for Great Britain is number 2 Jermaine McGillvary
  • Centre for Papua New Guinea is number 3 David Mead
    Centre for Great Britain is number 3 Jack Hughes
  • Centre for Papua New Guinea is number 4 Justin Olam
    Centre for Great Britain is number 4 Jake Connor
  • Winger for Papua New Guinea is number 5 Stargroth Amean
    Winger for Great Britain is number 5 Blake Austin
  • Five-Eighth for Papua New Guinea is number 6 Kyle Laybutt
    Five-Eighth for Great Britain is number 6 Gareth Widdop
  • Halfback for Papua New Guinea is number 7 Watson Boas
    Halfback for Great Britain is number 7 Jackson Hastings

Forwards

  • Prop for Papua New Guinea is number 8 Wellington Albert
    Prop for Great Britain is number 8 Chris Hill
  • Hooker for Papua New Guinea is number 9 Wartovo Puara
    Hooker for Great Britain is number 9 Josh Hodgson
  • Prop for Papua New Guinea is number 10 Luke Page
    Prop for Great Britain is number 10 Thomas Burgess
  • 2nd Row for Papua New Guinea is number 11 Nixon Putt
    2nd Row for Great Britain is number 11 John Bateman
  • 2nd Row for Papua New Guinea is number 12 Dan Russell
    2nd Row for Great Britain is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
  • Lock for Papua New Guinea is number 13 Rhyse Martin
    Lock for Great Britain is number 13 James Graham

Interchange

  • Interchange for Papua New Guinea is number 14 Edwin Ipape
    Interchange for Great Britain is number 15 Luke Thompson
  • Interchange for Papua New Guinea is number 15 Garry Lo
    Interchange for Great Britain is number 17 Alex Walmsley
  • Interchange for Papua New Guinea is number 16 Stanton Albert
    Interchange for Great Britain is number 18 Joe Philbin
  • Interchange for Papua New Guinea is number 17 Moses Meninga
    Interchange for Great Britain is number 19 George Williams

Key match-up

Elliot Whitehead v Rhyse Martin. After an awesome NRL season, Great Britain back-rower Whitehead has been solid for Great Britain, maintaining a high defensive workload. On the other hand, PNG captain Martin's NRL and Super League experience will be integral against a much more seasoned pack. Martin ran for 85 metres and made 29 tackles last weekend but also missed six tackles. Winger Edene Gebbie was outstanding versus the Bati and has another chance to show his ability before joining South Sydney for 2020.

For Papua New Guinea to win

An energetic start is paramount for the Kumuls. It's a mismatch on paper but with Great Britain down on form and confidence, you never know what could happen if PNG jag an early try or two. Given the Lions are averaging a mere 7.3 points on their southern hemisphere tour, the home team might fancy themselves to play razzle-dazzle footy and win an attacking shootout.

For Great Britain to win

Trusting their ability should take the Lions a long way. They've got superior class and experience across the board and have nothing to lose. Perhaps the expected flair of PNG will entice Great Britain to break the shackles in return - and we could see an avalanche of points if Bennett's troops click.

Stat attack

No member of Great Britain's starting pack made 100 running metres against New Zealand last start. Bench prop Alex Walmsley (120m) was the only big man to achieve the feat. The Kumuls didn't fare much better, however, with front-rower Luke Page (99m) recording the highest total of his team's forwards.

And another thing...

Papua New Guinea have upset the Lions once in eight meetings: a 20-18 triumph in 1990.