Palais prep for Hong Kong qualifiers

Papua New Guinea is all set to give the HSBC World Women’s Sevens Series Qualifiers in Hong Kong their best shot as the ICTSI Palais women’s team prepare for one of the biggest tournaments of their lives.

Head coach Paul Tietjens from New Zealand, said for these young women who will again wear the national colours of PNG with the same pride that they do for every tournament, the journey has been a great experience.

“The team has settled in well (after arriving on Sunday night). We have had four training sessions, where we have focused on team clarify on attack and defense.”

Tietjens is approaching this tournament with greater confidence after putting his team through four HP training camps in-country and another one overseas, and believes he has a team that, if they play to their true potential, can get the desired results.

“Yes we are physically and mentally prepared.”

The opening game is on Thursday at 10.44am in Hong Kong (12.44pm PNG time) which is against the home side and Tietjens is relying on the physicality of his team to set the foundations to utilise the pace they have.

Fatima Rama, Joanne Lagona, Gemma Schnaubelt, Chelsea Garesa and Tavai Lavai are players who can break open a game and he was satisfied they have trained very well since arriving.

Captain Kymlie Rapilla, Helen Abau, Debbie Kaore, Yollanda Gittins and Marlugu Dixon form a group that has been together for some time and know what their roles are.

Marie Biyama, who surprised many by forcing her way into the team after overcoming a seemingly serious leg injury, is one player who has had Hong Kong experience and should prove quite useful to the team this campaign.

Alice Alois, returning to the national side, also provides Tietjens with additional options to use during this tournament.

PNG is grouped in Pool B together with Uganda who they play in the second game at 1.18pm (3.18 PNG time) and Kenya 4.14pm (6.14 PNG time).

Pool A has Japan, Belgium, Scotland and Mexico while Pool C has Brazil, Argentina. Kazakhstan and Poland.

The top two in each pool and the best finishers from the three pools advance to the quarter finals on Friday.

Titejens said the Palais know that to qualify for the HSBC Series against tier one nations like New Zealand, England and France, who they played against in the Sydney 7s in February, Australia, Fiji and China, they would have to win the Hong Kong 7s.

“We are taking one game at a time and each game is like a final for us.”

Tietjens believes in the potential of PNG sides because last year they were leading China in the quarterfinal before going down after losing a player due to a foul play offense. 

“Since I took over as coach in October last year there have been many people who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure we prepared as best as possible for this tournament.

“They include the Board of PNG Rugby Union Chair Syd Yates, Secretary Michael Uiari (Secretary), Nathan Chang (treasurer), President Ben Frame (President), Robert Nilkare (Vice President), Martin Liri (National Rugby Administrator).

Tietjens said they just need to hold onto the ball for long periods and starve the opposition of possession, create space and then utilise their pace.

“In defense, we have to use our physicality, good line speed, be aggressive, basically do the simple things right and we should be okay.”   

The full team is:

1.            Kymlie Rapilla

2.            Marie Biyama

3.            Helen Abau

4.            Debbie Kaore

5.            Yollanda Gittins

6.            Taiva Lavai

7.            Gemma Scnaubelt

8.            Marlugu Dixon

9.            Joanne Lagona

10.          Fatima Rama

11.          Chelsea Garesa

12.          Alice Alois

13.          Cathy Puro

It has been an exciting journey and Tietjens used the opportunity to thank sponsors ICTSI, National Gaming Control Board, G4s, Credit Corporation, Kumul Petroleum Holdings, Gateway Hotel, Lamana Hotel, Axellerate, PNG HP Sports, PNG Sports Foundation CEO Peter Tsiamalili Jnr and PNG Olympic Committee for their continuous support.

Tietjens thanked the Government and in particular Prime Minister Peter O’Neill who is also the Minister for Sports for his personal support, which the team was very grateful for.


Press release