PNG Palais set to play Fiji for World Cup Qualifiers spot

Papua New Guinea will be sending its first women’s 15s team to qualify for the Women’s Rugby World Cup Qualifiers.

PNG Palais 15s team will take on Fiji this weekend during the Oceania Rugby Women’s Championship in Suva at ANZ Stadium on November 5.

The selected 21 players will depart PNG shores on Wednesday where they will meet up with six of the Brisbane based players before traveling to Fiji.

The team will be captained by regular and old time favourite Margaret Nauai.

Palais’ coach John Larry says preparations are going well and the team has been training since March.

They started off with 50 players and later trimmed down to 30 players.

Larry said due to time factor and availability of venue, there were not much lead up matches and trial games.

“We planned to have a 15s rugby trial match however we didn’t have a venue available.

“We have a lot of new faces in the team, most of them are young including Taiva Lavai and Fatima Rama who is one of the late inclusions in the team.

“Rama was the PNG women’s soccer striker for the 2015 Pacific Games and we are glad to have her on the team.

“We’ll be using her height and speed and skills so she’ll be a good boost for our team.”

Larry said they lost some of the good players to injury however he has confidence in the new players and it’s the right time for them to step up.

The winner of the qualifiers will advance to the final WRWC2017 Asia/Oceania Qualifier event in December in Hong Kong.

The Asia/Oceania Qualifier will feature two Asian qualifiers and one Oceania qualifier, with the two highest placed teams qualifying for the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland.

From the 27 players, 12 will be selected to participate in the Oceania Sevens tournament from November 11-12.  

Quintina Naime