Papua New Guinea rugby league skipper Paul Aiton says the local-based players are coming on leaps and bounds the longer the team spends together.
The Kumuls were trounced 42-0 by Australia last weekend in their opening Four Nations clash with 13 of the squad playing their football in the local competition back in PNG.
Cronulla hooker Aiton is the only NRL player in the team and says coming up against seasoned professionals he's been impressed by the efforts of his amateur team-mates.
"I mean these guys aren't full time or anything - you know they've got other jobs. They pretty much play footy for the fun of it. They're not insured or anything like that. They've come a really long way - you know they're playing against the best players in the world. I'm particularly proud of them and really happy for them. They've come a long long way."
Paul Aiton says improving their ball handling has been a particular focus for the team ahead of this Saturday's match against New Zealand in Rotorua.