RLWC Pool C: Papua New Guinea Hot Favorites Against Celtic Rivals

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RLWC 2008 - PNG v Australia
TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 9: The PNG team stand together for their national anthem before the start of the match between Papua New Guinea and the Australian Kangaroos at Dairy Farmers Stadium on November 9, 2008 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

It will be one of the hotly contested Pools at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup with Papua New Guinea hot favorites in Pool C. The Pacific rugby league giants will be playing all their games at home which will really boost their chances. However, they will be given a run for their money by the two European sides, in Ireland and Wales.

The Irish and Welsh have boosted their squads and will be out to take scalps of their much experienced Pacific opponents. On the other hand, they will have to each play a team from Pool D to complete their three pool games: Papua New Guinea will meet the USA Hawks while the Welsh Dragons will face the Fiji Bati side and the Irish, the Italians.

RLWC Pool C: Papua New Guinea Hot Favorites Against Celtic Rivals

Papua New Guinea

Moniker: Kumuls | First Test: 1975 – Great Britain 40 P.N.G 12

Best World Cup Result: Quarter Finals (2000)

Head coach: Michael Marum

Within this pool, Papua New Guinea are hot favorites for the World Cup. And have only met the Welsh side previously–never facing Ireland. The Kumuls have played three times against the Dragons; winning all. This will be the first time they take on Wolfhounds, and in a Inter-Pool game, the United States of America.

Favourites quite rightly, it is the Islands national sport. After the success of the SP PNG Hunters in the Queensland Intrust Super Cup, the country’s expectations just got higher. They have the arsenal and firepower to deliver at the world event, backed by their 8 million country men and women.

The Kumuls have the advantage of playing their pool games at home, in their conditions at Port Moresby against key opponents Ireland and Wales. The one cross-pool opponent USA maybe a chance to rest players, prior to the knockout stages. The Kumuls have named a formidable side that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“Riding on the back of the successful SP PNG Hunters….the support of our 8 million plus people will turn support the Kumuls in the 2017 World Cup campaign” Sandis Tsaka, PNG RL Chairman said on rwlc2017.com.

Kumuls Main Enforcers:

The Kumuls have one big advantage, core of their team plays together and understands each other well. They have the technical know-how to nullify big teams quickly absorbing them to play their game. Their big forwards will lay their platform. Wellington Albert together with young Moses Meninga, Nixon Putt, Stanton Albert and Gary Lo will be, the big enforcers.

Game changers: James Segeyaro together with Ase Boas and Watson Boas, are the big game changes in the side. The trio can ignite something out of nothing, like what the Fiji Bati encountered in the Tri-Nations Exhibition match in Fiji. Quick off the mark and they can be a headache to any opposition.

Nene McDonald and veteran Paul Aiton will pose the biggest threat, if they are given room to move. Scrappy and determined play will be the structure of the hosts, which should bring reward in pool play.

Match winners: Brisbane Broncos winger and Kumuls captain David Mead is their match winner as he has the ability to beat defenders one-on-one, with his steps. Combine that with the combinations from the Hunters, they will be ruthless in the pool stages if not contained.

Kumuls RLWC fixtures:

  • 28/10/2017 – v Wales (Port Moresby, PNG)
  • 05/11/2017 – v Ireland (Port Moresby, PNG)
  • 12/11/2017 – v USA (Port Moresby, PNG)

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Wales

Moniker: Dragons | First Test: 01/01/1908 – Wales 9 New Zealand 8 (Aberdare, Wales)

Best World Cup Result: Semi-Finals (1995, 2000)

Head coach: John Kear

The Welsh have named three uncapped players in their squad while welcoming back some experienced players. Halifax’s Chester Butler, grandson of former Welsh international Colin Dixon, together with Gavin Bennion of Salford Red Devils and Josh Ralph, will debut at the Rugby League World Cup.

Ben Evans and Matty Seamark bring World Cup experience, with Regan Grace and Morgan Knowles who add direction and aggression. On the back of six consecutive wins, the Welsh are hopeful to end their World Cup win drought.

“We’ve not won a World Cup match since 2000. We didn’t qualify for the 2008 World Cup and we didn’t win in 2013” says coach John Kear on rlwc2017.com, but Welsh fans can hold high hopes that the record will be changed in 2017.

Wales’ Main Enforcers:

Ben Evans and Matty Seamark will be their key enforcers. Hoping to nullify the Kumuls quick ball, will be their main objective. Big men, Wales will hope good use of the interchange will reward them–aside from the humidity in Papua.

Game changers: Their London Broncos combinations will be vital here. Michael Channing, Dalton Grant, Elliott Kear and Rhys Williams are the game changers for the Welsh. Their understanding of each other will be key going forward.

Match winners: Reagan Grace and Morgan Knowles are match winners with captain Craig Kopczak. Unpredictability is their biggest weapon with self doubts their biggest weakness.

Welsh RLWC fixtures:

  • 28/11/2017 – v PNG (Port Moresby)
  • 05/11/2017 – v Fiji (Townsville)
  • 12//11/2017 – v Ireland (Perth)

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Ireland

Moniker: Wolfhounds | First Test: March, 1995 – Ireland 24 USA 22 (Washington D.C.)

Best World Cup Result: Quarter-Finals (2000, 2008)

Head coach:  Mark Ashton

The Irish experienced duo of captain Liam Finn and Scott Grix will lead the campaign for the men from the Emerald Isles. The duo that has 20 years experience behind them, representing the green jersey. Finn will need all his group to fire.

They have a side filled with experience and upcoming starters, that will take Irish rugby league into the future. Although, that start needs to be in game one against Italy [cross-pool game].

The Irish face PNG and Wales from their pool matches, and they will test the Wolfhounds metal.

Ireland’s Main Enforcers:

James Hasson who has played in the Super League and NRL leads the charge with youngster like Brad Singleton, Joe Philbin together with Tyrone McCarthy and Kyle Amor.

Game Changers: Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook will be one of their biggest game changers; he brings real quality and experience to the side. Returning hooker Michael Mcllorum adds aggression and direction.

Match winners: Plenty of power within the Irish squad, with Api Pewhirangi being the obvious inspiration. Together with Anthony Mullaly, George King and Will Hope, they will all be potential game winners.

Ireland RLWC fixtures:

  • 29/10/2017 – v Italy (Cairns)
  • 05/11/2017 – v PNG (Port Moresby, PNG)
  • 12/11/2017 – v Wales (Perth)

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RLWC Pool D: Can the Celtic sides upset the Kumuls?

The Irish and Welsh sides have a good chance but, it will go down to who ‘wants it the most’. The Celtic sides have great history in the sport; like Scotland. With enthusiasm, they each will bring an extra flavour to the World Cup event.

The one element that is of big concern, are the conditions. Hot, humid and hostile. Port Moresby, Cairns and Townsville offer a second challenge for the European sides–how well they cope, and manage player welfare is critical to success.

Kumuls are no doubt hot favorites. They will have to prepare for an Celtic onslaught from the Dragons and Wolfhounds, but with the experience of the Intrust Super Cup it really supports the Papua New Guinea team for a high finish in 2017.

 

Enjoy our other RLWC Pool evaluations here.

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