PNG Kumuls

'Made me who I am': Mead announces Test retirement

Mead wants other young PNG players to have a similar experience and that is why the long-serving Kumuls captain told team-mates on Tuesday that he was calling time on his decorated international career after Saturday night’s Pacific Test against Fiji at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.

​The 33-year-old is yet to made a final decision about his NRL future but he has advised new Kumuls coach Stanley Tepend to give his World Cup spot to one of the growing band of young players he believes would provide the talent for a future PNG team in the Telstra Premiership.

PNG v Fiji: Johnston and Kikau headline all star cast

After Samoa and Cook Islanads have the set the scene in the earlier game it's over to PNG and Fiji to light up the stadium with some ferocious defence and flashy attack in their first clash since November, 2019.

On that occasion it was the Bati prevailing 22-20 in a thriller in Christchurch with Viliame Kikau and Tui Kamikamica among the tryscorers and Maika Sivo running for 214 metres.

‘I feel like a fraud’: Why de Belin will knock back PNG

Kumuls officials had reached out to the St George Illawarra Dragons middle forward before Papua New Guinea face Fiji at Campbelltown Stadium next Saturday night.

But de Belin says it wouldn’t feel right to lace up the boots for a country he has never felt a genuine connection with. He qualifies for the Kumuls via his maternal grandmother, who was born there but does not have Papua New Guinean heritage.

“I’d love to help out and what not, but I just don’t feel like it’s right. I’m taking away a spot from someone who is actually from PNG and deserves it,” de Belin said.

Kumuls Squad Named

Kumuls Head Coach Stanley Tepend said all the players named have been in contact with him for the past few weeks and they are aware of the short camp coming up ahead of the test match against Fiji Batis.

“There are six Hunters players named, even though we haven’t been doing well but I feel that the players have earned their position. 
“We will all get into camp on Tuesday the 21st, we will assemble in to Campbelltown, and so it’s easier for us.”

Dragons de Belin Unavailable

However, newly appointed Kumuls Head Coach, Stanley Tepend is hopeful the lock will accept a call-up later in the year. 

Tepend and his predecessor Michael Marum have held discussions with De Belin about representing his grandmother’s birth nation over the last 12 months.

De Belin only returned to the NRL last year and hasn’t played representative football since 2018, with the 31-year-old ruling himself out of Kumuls selection ahead of next week’s Test at Campbelltown.

Fiji Bati Name Squad

The Bati squad features 15 NRL players, with Sydney Roosters winger, Kevin Naiqama, named captain and Panthers player, Viliame Kikau, named vice captain.

Other NRL players include, Issac Lumelume, Braydon Wakeham and Penioni Tagituimua (Caterbury Bulldogs), Sunia Turuva (Penrith Panthers), Semi Valemei (Canberra Raiders), Mikaele Ravalawa (St George Illawarra Dragons), Maika Sivo (Parramatta Eels), Vuate Karawalevu and Tui Kamikamica (Melbourne Storm), Taane Milne (South Sydney Rabbitohs) and Iosefo Masi, Taniela Sadrugu, and Laitia Moceidreke (Queensland Cowboys).

Bai Congratulates Tepend

Bai who last represented the Kumuls in 2007, said although he would have wished for Tepend’s appointment to come at least a year earlier, he says Tepend is the right man for the job at the  given his unparalleled Digicel Cup premiership winning track record with the Lae Snax Tigers over the past six years.

Bai said with the short turnaround time given the Pacific Test against Fiji is only three weeks away on June 25.

He said it might not be ideal for Tepend putting a team together given the PNG Hunters not doing well currently in the Hostplus Cup.

Lam knocks back chance to coach Kumuls

The Leigh Centurions boss revealed exclusively to Love Rugby League that he knocked back the chance to coach his native Papua New Guinea in a World Cup, for a third time.

Lam insisted that he is happy in his current role as Assistant Coach to Mal Meninga for Australia, a position which he has been in, since 2016.

Papua New Guinea last week announced the head coaching appointment of Stanley Tepend, who will lead the Kumuls at this autumn’s World Cup.

POMRFL Lauds Tepend’s Appointment

POMRFL Administrator and Competition Manager, Meke Maino on behalf of the league sent well wishes to the coach Tepend and lauded the PNG rugby league fraternity in their good choice.

“Don’t forget Coach Tepend was once a local PRL boy, just like his predecessor former Kumul Coach, Michael Marum. Tepend has achieved much as a coach and we are all excited, with 2022 Rugby League World Cup just around the corner,” added Maino.

Flanagan to help Tepend in PNG World Cup role

Tepend, who guided Lae Snax Tigers to six premierships in the PNG domestic competition before joining the coaching staff of the PNG Hunters in the Queensland Cup, will take over from Michael Marum after six years as his assistant.

Flanagan, who took Cronulla to their inaugural premiership in 2016 and is currently engaged as a list management consultant with St George Illawarra, will support and advise Tepend as Kumuls coaching consultant.