Sport: PNG Kumuls discover World Cup opponents

2:13 pm on 20 July 2016

Papua New Guinea will host matches against the United States and two European qualifiers in Port Moresby during next year's Rugby League World Cup.

The official draw was announced yesterday, with the Kumuls home game's to be played at the refurbished National Football Stadium.

Kumuls captain David Mead said the whole squad can't wait to run out in front of their home supporters.

"It will be different for us playing the European sides but it will be even more different for the other teams going into Port Moresby and experiencing what rugby league is like over there. The people are very passionate and love their rugby league so they'll be supporting us but they'll also be pretty excited to see the other nations coming into the country and I'm sure they will welcome every team with both arms."

PNG Kumuls captains David Mead.

PNG Kumuls captain David Mead. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Gold Coast Titans winger said it will be a very proud moment for the Kumuls players and their families to play in a World Cup on home soil.

"To be able to represent their country on the highest stage and at the World Cup and especially on their home soil is even more special so for every player it's going to be a big moment for them and the country's going to be very very excited to host a number of games."

Papua New Guinea have been drawn in Pool C with two yet to be determined European qualifiers, with Fiji, USA and a third European side making up Pool D.

The final three teams at next year's tournament will come from the European Qualifying Tournament to be played in October and November this year, featuring Wales, Ireland, Russia, Serbia, Italy and Spain.

PNG failed to win a game at the 2013 World Cup in the UK.

David Mead was a part of that squad but said a lot has changed in the national set-up in the past few years.

"The Hunters came into the (Queensland Cup) competition - I think they've done a terrific job being able to help players get signed into the NRL and a couple in the Super League...and obviously the test match against Fiji earlier this year was pretty successful. Michael Marum, our coach, brought in a new staff - and they're former players in Marcus Bai, John Wilshere, David Wesley, who's won a competition in the NRL in the 1990s," he said.

"We've had a fair few new faces in camp since 2013 - it has been pretty good having those guys around who have been there and done it before. Hopefully moving forward we still keep a pretty similar squad and more experienced players playing NRL and I'm sure if we bring those guys into camp next year we will do pretty well."

Lead hosts Australia open the World Cup against England in Melbourne on October 27.

The Kangaroos have been draw in Pool A, alongside England, France and Lebanon, while co-hosts New Zealand are in Pool B, with Samoa, Scotland and Tonga.

The draw for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

The draw for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. Photo: Rugby League World Cup 2017