Papua New Guinea
- Team Name: The Kumuls
- First Appearance: 1985
- RLWC2013 Group: Group B
- RLWC2013 Opponents: France, New Zealand, Samoa
- Tournament best: Quarter-Final (2000)
Ones to Watch: Paul Aiton, Menzie Yere, James Segeyaro
Read more about these great players and why they are ones to watch during RLWC2013.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats hooker Paul Aiton made a big impact his first season in Super League, despite seeing his campaign ended early by a broken jaw.
Aiton was born in Papua New Guinea but moved to Sydney at a young age, where he pursued his love of Rugby League and was eventually able to turn his passion for the greatest game into an NRL career.
He has since made the switch to the Super League, but remains fiercely proud of his Kumul roots despite his nomadic lifestyle.
Aiton’s power from acting half should help put PNG on the front foot at Rugby League World Cup 2013, while his knowledge of the elite level in the UK and Australia will also be invaluable.
Easily the biggest centre in the Kingstone Press Championship, Sheffield wrecking ball Menzie Yere should relish the opportunity to strut his stuff on the world stage this year.
Yere, who wreaked havoc for PNG at Rugby League World Cup 2008, was a try scorer for the Kumuls in their defeat to Australia at the tournament, and relishes the one-on-one opportunities often afforded to him at club level.
With the right service at RLWC2013, Yere will take some stopping, particularly close to the line, where he is able to use his bulky frame to hold off tackles.
Penrith Panthers star James Segeyaro will bring NRL class to PNG at Rugby League World Cup 2013.
Segeyaro joined the Panthers ahead of the 2013 season, having made a name for himself in Australia’s premier competition as a hooker with North Queensland Cowboys.
Despite representing the Junior Kangaroos as a teenager, the 22-year-old Goroka native has eyes trained on representing the Kumuls in 2013, and further enhancing his reputation as a powerful runner of the ball and rock solid defender.
A Bit of History
Papua New Guinea is the only nation to boast Rugby League as its national sport and, since taking a bow in the game’s 1985-88 tournament, the Papuans have been World Cup ever-presents.
Rugby League was brought to PNG during the 1930s and 40s by Australian miners and serviceman, and the sport quickly established itself in the national psyche.
A governing body was founded in 1949 and, over the next three decades, Rugby League developed rapidly with growing numbers of participants and spectators.
PNG joined the fledgling Rugby League International Federation in 1974 and entered the Test arena a year later, losing 40-12 to Great Britain in the capital Port Moresby.
A decade later, Papua New Guinea were invited to participate in Rugby League’s newly-formatted World Cups of 1986-1988 and 1989-1992, with the highlight a shock victory over New Zealand 24-22 in Port Moresby in 1986.
Although ultimately unsuccessful, the Kumuls played their part in a 1995 World Cup group that threw up the tournaments’ most memorable and entertaining fixtures been PNG, New Zealand and Tonga.
In the 2000 World Cup, led by the talismanic Adrian Lam, PNG made history by finishing top of their pool and qualifying for the quarter finals for the first time.
PNG were automatic qualifiers for the 2008 World Cup, where they were grouped with Australia, New Zealand and England in the super pool. The Kumuls very nearly upset England in the first match, and preformed creditably too against New Zealand and Australia.
10 sides compete in Papua New Guinea’s top level domestic competition, the Digicel Cup: Simbu Warriors; Goroka Lahanis; Mount Hagen Eagles; Enga Mioks; Mendi Muruks; Lae Snax Tigers; Rabaul Gurias; Port Moresby Vipers; Hela Wigmen and Gulf Isapeas.
The Papua New Guinea government has even held talks with the NRL and the Australian government about the possibility of entering a team in the NRL. Another successful World Cup campaign will not harm the Kumuls’ cause.