Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
It was announced yesterday by the PNGRFL that the Kumuls' will play three Test matches this year.
After weeks of speculation, the Papua New Guinea national team will face two Test matches against New Zealand Kiwis. The NZRL and PNGRFL originally proposed a three match series, with one game held at Rugby Park in Christchurch, New Zealand and another two in Papua New Guinea. But that proposal had to be cancelled due to the announcement of the Trans-Tasman Test on October 12th in Wellington, NZ between the Australian Kangaroos' and New Zealand themselves.
It was confirmed by Kevin Murphy in a meeting in Goroka that the Tests against New Zealand would take place on Sepetember 28th and October 5th, both to be hosted in New Zealand, probably in Auckland and Christchurch.
There will also be a Test match on home soil against a touring England/Great Britain side near the end of October. It is not known yet whether it will be a full strength Lions team because the British are set to face New Zealand in a series in November and it is more likely that their full strength side will play France.
But nevertheless, there will be an England/Great Britain side touring which will more that likely be a an understrengthed team who are also set to face other South Pacific islands such as Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and even the Cook Islands.
The PNGRFL will also give an opportunity to up and coming Kumul players from regional league's to play for a Papua New Guinean side in the Asia-Pacific Cup prior to the three Test matches.
The tournament was set to be played this month (April) in the American island Hawaii but due to a lack of sponsors the tournament is to be competed in Brisbane and other parts of Queensland. In a way that is better because it's easier for fans to travel to north of Australia rather than Hawaii.
This is great news for the Papua New Guinean national squad who are going from strength to strength each year and are sure to be playing the mighty Lions before yet another capacity crowd with the eyes of the nation watching.
The last time the Lions toured Papua New Guinea was in 1996, which they narrowly won 32-30, a 10,000 near capacity crowd turned up that day in Lae, and the performance did the country proud. The match will without a doubt be broadcasted live on Papua New Guinean TV and the British may also want live TV coverage for Sky UK.
Below, PNG Kumuls International Fixtures of 2002:
Asia-Pacific Cup - tournament - in September hosted in Australia. V-New Zealand on September 28th V-New Zealand on October 5th V-England/Great Britain in October