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Aussies look to impress v PNG in league

Sunday's clash between the Australian Prime Minister's XIII and the Papua New Guinea Kumuls under the shadow of a steaming volcano is being seen by both sides as a chance for players to make a mark before the Rugby League World Cup in England.
Aussies look to impress v PNG in league
by AAP

By Eoin Blackwell, AAP Papua New Guinea Correspondent

PORT MORESBY, Sept 28 AAP - Sunday's clash between the Australian Prime Minister's XIII and the Papua New Guinea Kumuls under the shadow of a steaming volcano is being seen by both sides as a chance for players to make a mark before the Rugby League World Cup in England.

PM's hooker Robbie Farah says he's expecting the Kumuls to come out hard when the sides meet at Kolobon Stadium in Kokopo, New Britain Island.

"A good performance in the game tomorrow will help our chances with getting on the plane to England next month for the World Cup," Farah told reporters in Kokopo on Saturday.

"(The) Kumuls are similar to us. This is a game for them where they want to impress the coach ahead of the World Cup so we know they're going to come out very hard tomorrow."

New Britain is famous for its temperamental and constantly steaming volcano, Tavuvur, located a short distance off the coast.

With World Cup places for PM's players Farah, Sam Thaiday, Jarred Hayne, brothers Josh and Brett Morris and Greg Bird likely secured, the remainder of the squad has the opportunity to showcase their wares ahead of next month's tournament.

The PM's XIII is being coached by Laurie Daley, but Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens has travelled to the island to assist the Australian side and observe.

"It's a big year for us. It's five years since we lost the World Cup under controversial circumstances," Sheens said.

"It's been something that I've really, coming close to the end of my tenure on the Australian side, something I'd like to say is we can get that bit of silverware in the cabinet.

"But I'm sure New Zealand, England and everyone else in the World Cup is going to have something to say about that."

The squad flew to PNG from Cairns on Friday, before arriving in Kokopo to cheering crowds - a familiar sight to Australian players visiting PNG, the only country on earth where rugby league is the national sport.

Memories of last year's tight game and the last minute, 24-18 victory to Australia at Port Moresby's Lloyd Robson Oval is still fresh on the players' minds.

"This will be my fourth game here and the last three I played were very tough," said Farah.

"The scorelines have been very close and when you walk off the field at the end of the game, you know you've played a hard game of rugby league with the Kumuls.

"They're a very physical side."

Following a training session on Saturday Farah and prop Sam Thaiday recorded anti domestic violence messages for local radio, while the rest of the squad played with students from Kokopo Secondary school.

The match is scheduled to kick off at 2.30pm AEST.


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