PNG names expanded Kumul squad for Rugby World Cup and Prime Minister's XIII clash

PAPUA New Guinea Kumul selectors are keeping their fingers crossed on injured players who have been named in an expanded Prime Minister’s XIII squad. 
The 27-man side prepare for the annual PM’s XIII hit-out against their Australian counterparts in Kokopo this Sunday.
This follows the announcement and endorsement by the chairman of the PNG Rugby Football League (PNGRFL) Don Fox and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill of the team yesterday.
The match on Sunday is the first lead-up match for both countries heading to this year’s World Cup slated for Oct 26-Nov 30 in England and Wales.
The Australian team is one of the strongest to face PNG minus those still in the NRL semi-finals this weekend. 
In a statement yesterday, Fox confirmed that national selectors are basically sweating on the fitness of several key players named who will not play in this match.
The selectors, however, are expecting them to be fit for the first Pool B World Cup match against France on Oct 27.  
Some of those named on the injured watch list oversees are David Mead (Gold Coast Titans), Ray Thompson (North Queensland Cowboys) and James Segeyaro (Penrith Panthers), while Mark Mexico and Dion Aiye who didn’t take the field on Sunday could also be in a similar situation. 
That includes those that still have club commitments in finals oversees. Rabaul-born Newcastle Knights enforcer and experienced Kumul forward Neville Costigan (pictured) is in that category. The Knights play Sydney City Roosters in the semi-final on Saturday. 
The new face in the oversees component is 192cm tall, 100kg centre/fullback Nene McDonald from the Sydney City Roosters Under 20s team. An Australian schoolboy and Junior Kangaroo, McDonald, 19, who has been on the watch-list for a while has finally been selected. 
The surprise picks that have forced the squad extension look to be PNG Red standouts in centre Francis Paniu, halfback Roger Laka, backrower Sebastian Pandia, prop Petero Sanivalu, the experienced Larsen Marape and  live wire fullback Adex Wera. 
Kumul coach Adrian Lam said they have had to extend the squad due to a few players really standing out during the recent trial, who forced their way into consideration.
“To be honest, this is a good position to be in,” Lam stated.
While there is no surprise that Lam has kept his most experienced Kumul in Western Highlander Paul Aiton, who currently plays in the English Super League with Wakefield Trinity alongside fellow oversees-based players including obvious pick in Knights’ Costigan, Menzie Yere from Sheffield Eagles and Huddersfield Giants forward Jason Chan.
PNG PM’s XIII squad: Josiah Abavu, Paul Aiton, Dion Aiye, Wellington Albert, Ase Boas, Joe Bruno, Jason Chan, Neville Costigan, Israel Eliab, Richard Kambo, Roger Laka, David Loko, Enoch Maki, Larsen Marape, Nene McDonald, David Mead, Mark Mexico, Jesse-Joe Nandye, Sebastian Pandia, Francis Paniu, James Segeyaro, Petero Sanivalu, Jason Tali, Ray Thompson, Charlie Wabo, Adex Wera, Menzie Yere.
This squad of 27 will be reduced to 22 following the match to travel to the World Cup.
The team leaves for Kokopo today for training and community commitments.
The Laurie Daley-coached Australian PM’s XIII is expected to arrive in the country late in the week.

The National
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