Wednesday, February 06, 2013

South Sydney Rabbitohs expecting a big crowd for trial match against PNG Kumuls

By Josh Massoud  The Daily Telegraph

TRADITIONALLY a cardinal and mrytle affair, Saturday night's Return to Redfern trial clash will feature some very different faces.
Rabbitohs officials expecting hundreds of raucous Papuans to cheer on the visiting Kumuls, whose every move will also be evaluated by talent scouts from rival NRL outfits.

Glenn Nami, Israel Eliab, Joshia Abavu, Esau Siune and Dion Aiye
South Sydney's Bryson Goodwin with Papua New Guinea rugby league players (L to R) Glenn Nami, Israel Eliab, Joshia Abavu, Esau Siune and Dion Aiye at Redfern Oval ahead of their trial match this week. Picture: Brett Costello Source: The Daily Telegraph
Despite being the only nation to declare rugby league its No. 1 sport, PNG remains virgin territory for most recruitment officers.
The 20-strong squad that will tackle Souths this weekend is wholly comprised of PNG residents, with some based in remote highland regions where brutal 'eye-for-an-eye' tribal customs still reign supreme.
Dreadlocked prop Esau Siune hails from the village of Kundiawa in Simbu province, which is likely to be banned from hosting matches in this year's local competition because of repeated violence.
It's little wonder Rabbitohs three-quarter Bryson Goodwin was anticipating a physical contest after coming face-to-face with Siune and his team mates at Redfern yesterday.
"I'm sure they are going to be hard to play," he said.
"They've even got a guy nick-named the mini jukebox because he produces so many big hits.
"They'll be energetic and enthusiastic."
Recruitment officers learned that much last weekend, when they watched the Kumuls win the Cabramatta International Nines tournament after conceding just two tries.
Along with Siune, halves Dion Aiye and Israel Eliab attracted interest from Sydney-based player agents that could pave the way for NRL contracts.
PNG coach Adrian Lam expects more recruitment officers to flock to Redfern for Saturday night's game.
"From what I've heard there will be about six clubs with recruitment officers here," Lam said.
"I don't know why clubs haven't concentrated on Papua New Guinea more.
"They've become very familiar with the Pacific islands, but no-one from PNG really gets picked-up unless they come to school in Australia first."
About 2,000 tickets remain available for the clash - one of seven trials being held this weekend.
Friday night's Manly-Cronulla hit-out at Brookvale Oval will boast the most high-profile players, with the Sharks rolling out all their new recruits barring Luke Lewis (oblique tear).
Michael Gordon, Chris Heighington, Beau Ryan and Jono Wright have all been included in the 31-man squad, along with established Sharks Wade Graham, Ben Ross, Isaac de Gois and Anthony Tupou.
Canberra have named stars Josh Dugan, Jarrod Croker, Sam Williams and Josh McCrone for Saturday night's game against Melbourne in Geelong, while Canterbury and Newtown will round out the weekend's action with the annual Back to Belmore fixture.
Wests Tigers also tackle Penrith in Bathurst, where the Panthers have named a slightly stronger team that includes first graders Clint Newton, Blake Austin and Nathan Smith.

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