The PNG RL Foundations National Elite U16 & U18 teams will start their annual International tour next week, with players arriving in Port Moresby this Sunday for a three day camp ahead of their departure on Wednesday for Brisbane.
The tour, which is fully supported and endorsed by the PNGRFL, will see the teams play 4 matches in 8 days against high quality opposition in Brisbane.
PNG Rugby league Foundation CEO Brad Tassell said the tour was vital in the development of the players;
â€œItâ€™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). 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€
Elite Development Manager Shane Morris said he expected the players to more than hold their own on tour;
â€œWe have some 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 t now comes as second nature to them. 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 who is certain to attract interest during the tour is 6â€™3â€, 101kg winger/centre Wellington Albert. Identified through the PNG Rugby Leagues National Program Wellington has been included as part of the Team Kumul camps leading up to the World Cup and will take part in the tour to further improve his Rugby League development.
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. 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 thee players will play in the long-term future of the International programâ€ said Morris.