Always looking to take the game of rugby league in their country to the next level and challenge themselves against quality opposition, Papua New Guinea’s U16 and U18 side have embarked on the start of their international tour.
Arriving in Port Moresby for a 3-day camp before a trip to Brisbane where the clashes begin, the junior sides will play four matches in eight days against formidable sides, PNG Rugby League Foundation CEO Brad Tassell highlighting how crucial the tour is for the development of the players.
Itâ€™s a critical part of the National program, where the players selected form the National Championships last year will get to test themselves against some of the best young rugby league players in the state (Queensland),” said Tassell.
“One of the matches is against the club state champions and national finalists Redcliffe, while the other games are against top-level Schoolboy programs. This is NOT a holiday for the players, they are playing 4 matches in 8 days and it will be mentally and physically demanding.
We want to test them against the best, improve them as footballers and show them the mindset and attitude they need to adopt to reach the top. They will also be exposed to the Queensland Origin side in camp through coach Mal Meninga, which we believe will have a positive affect on how they approach their football in the future.
We truly believe we have the next batch of Team Kumul members in the squads and for PNG to be successful long-term, it is vital that we have a strong junior development schoolboys program.â€
With some tough clashes coming up for the young PNG sides, Shane Morris, PNG’s Elite Development Manager, believes that the young guns are more than up to the task of matching it with the sides.
â€œWe have some njoy electronic cigarettes amazing talent in the squads. Some of the kids have been in the system now for over 2 years and are at a very advanced skill level, probably more advanced than the senior PNG players as they have been taught the basic skills at an early age and it now comes as second nature to them,” said Morris.
“We believe they are every bit as good as if not better than Aussie kids their own age, but we need them to play at the highest level possible so we can gauge how well they are developing. We are not going over there to just compete â€“ we expect results and we expect the players to perform. We have put a lot of time and effort into the program and instil strong values and discipline into the players, and what we need now is for them to put that training into action.
One player that is likely to attract a lot of attention is Wellington Albert, a 101kg and 6’3″ behemoth of a player, who was identified through the PNG Rugby Leagues National Program, as he looks to further his development as a player.
â€œWellington is a very intelligent player and has great size, strength, speed and skill and would not be out of place in an NRL clubs U20â€™s program,” said Morris.
“We also have another dozen or more players who are younger and not far off his ability, so there is certainly some talent there. How they apply themselves mentally and how they push themselves beyond their mental limit is what we are looking for out of the players. I know Mal is very keen to expose the young players to the Queensland players in camp and he also understands the importance these players will play in the long-term future of the International program.”