By Richard Cowley, Date: 26/3/13

There have been lots of positive rugby league stories coming out of PNG recently. Just last week it was announced that Mal Meninga would join the Kumuls World Cup team as high performance coaching director. The Kumuls actually have a high performance division? Wow it’s amazing the progress that can be made when the right people are running the show.

Adrian Lam has jumped back on-board as the Kumuls coach. That’s after stepping down from the coaching position when infighting gripping the PNGRL was at its highest.

Now with new leadership in place it seems that PNG has united behind the Kumuls once more. Selected players will be entering a Kumuls high performance camp after the Easter break. The Digicel cup is also due to kick off in April which will put the elite players to the test and see if they do stand out in the local competition.

By the time the regular season is finished in PNG, the elite players will then take on Australia in the annual Prime Minister’s XIII in September. The impact of the elite performance division will really be on display for all to see.

The Kumuls will have their best shot yet in this year’s World Cup. Back in 2000 the Kumuls made the quarter finals of the rugby league world cup for the first time and people danced in the street.

The Kumuls are in a very competitive world cup group with the likes of New Zealand, France and Samoa standing between them and World Cup history. What is working in the Kumuls favour is that the top three teams from Group B progress to the quarter finals. The best chance PNG have of making the semi-finals is by finishing 2nd in their group. If they do finish 2nd in Group B they will play the 3rd placed team in Group A. The 3rd placed team in group A will either be Fiji or Ireland.

So with hard work, a performance unit and some luck the Kumuls could be playing in their first ever Rugby League World Cup semi-final. If the whole of PNG danced in the streets when they made the quarter finals back in the 2000 RLWC, I would love to see what the people of PNG would do if their Kumuls made it through to the semi-finals of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.

GROUP B Fixture for Papua New Guinea

Game 1: Oct 27th (Sunday), France v Papua New Guinea, Location – MS3 Craven Park, Hull, England

Game 4: Nov 4th (Monday), Samoa v Papua New Guinea, Location – MS3 Craven Park, Hull, England

Game 5: Nov 8th (Friday), New Zealand v Papua New Guinea, Location – Headingley Carnegie Stadium, Leeds, England