TEST PREVIEW: PNG Kumuls vs Fiji Bati

The first leg of the Pacific Test double header between the Kumuls of PNG and Bati of Fiji may not have the intense rivalry of the Tonga-Samoa clash but should be a game full of entertainment, free flowing attack and ferocious defence. A matchup between two sides with ambition, PNG having joined Queensland’s Intrust Super Cup in 2014 under the banner of the PNG Hunters, and Fiji who are looking to join NSW’s Intrust Super Premiership in the near future.


Last year’s clash was the first official game between the two Pacific footballing nations, the record before in less official figures favoured the PNG side 5-1. What will be interesting this time around is to see how the Kumuls have improved from last year where the more professional Bati with more NRL stars were too slick, too professional, and better across the park despite the Kumuls enthusiasm.

The match featured one of the season’s biggest tackles of the year when Marika Koroibete smashed the PNG forward Willie Minoga. But it wasn’t all about that tackle for Marika Koroibete, he was instrumental in the Fijians taking an 18-0 lead to the break with a first half double, the second not long after the super tackle.

The Kumuls got back into the game with the next two tries, and in looking for the next try in the final minutes threw the perfect intercept allowing the Bati to seal the game at 22-10.

Another memory from last year’s clash was the harmonies provided by the Fijians on one knee in a circle pre match. Such a refreshing change from this era of the default booing of an opposition as they run out on the field.


One of the key battles is at the back featuring the NRL stars – like Sisa Waqa, Kevin Naiqama and Akuila Uate for Fiji and the Titans pair Nene McDonald and David Mead. Whoever can turn their experience and speed into points will go a long way to deciding the battle.

After the battle of the forwards is won that is. Fijians boast the fearsome Kane Evans and Korbin Sims who have the potential to destroy opposition forward packs. But the lesser known forward pack of the Kumuls still packs a punch, and it will come down to whether the supporting cast of Fijian forwards can match the overall power of the Intrust Super Cup heavy PNG forward pack.


Whilst the Bati have more of the bigger named NRL players in their side, the combination of the Kumuls, which has 10 PNG Hunters players plus former Hunters Ottio and Minoga, should give them some advantage. Throw in the speed and experience of PNG’s only two full time NRL players David Mead and Nene McDonald and the Hunters claims are strong. If they can hold onto the ball and keep penalties down to a minimum they will have enough to pip Fiji. But Fiji have some big weapons up front and in the backline, so there won’t be much in it.

Hopefully it will provide an opportunity for these players to impress for a potential future in the NRL, and not a shopping window for the bigger nations to cherry pick. It would be great too if these Pacific Tests could stimulate enough interest to have these one off Tests turned into a proper Round Robin Test Series with a Final. Once is just not enough.

Prediction PNG 28-24.



1              David Mead                       NRL – GC Titans

2              Justin Olam                        PNG Hunters

3              Kato Ottio                          NRL – Canberra Raiders

4              Nene Macdonald            NRL – GC Titans

5              Stargroth Amean            PNG Hunters

6              Ase Boas                             PNG Hunters

7              Watson Boas                     PNG Hunters

8              Luke Page                          Burleigh Bears

9              Wartovo Puara                 PNG Hunters

10           Henry Noki                        PNG Hunters

11           Rhys Martin                       Townsville Blackhawks

12           Rod Griffin                         NRL – Wests Tigers

13           Adam Korave                    PNG Hunters

14           Adex Wera                        PNG Hunters

15           Brandy Peter                    PNG Hunters

16           Willie Minoga                    Townsville Blackhawks

17           Kurt Baptiste                     NRL – Canberra Raiders

18           Timothy Lomai                 PNG Hunters


Players to Watch:

Willie Minoga – No surprise if you have read any PNG based reports from myself, but he is always worth watching and Saturday night should provide another opportunity for the rampaging forward known as either The Raging Bull, Freight Train or Mack Truck to explode on the big stage. He’s also back with his fellow Kumuls after moving to the Townsville Blackhawks in the off season.

Rod Griffin – Much was made of all the Intrust Super Cup graduates from 2015, especially from premiers Ipswich, and like most of the others Rod Griffin has yet to show his wares in the NRL this year. Unlike the other recruits though, he has stuck with it, and the 80 minute forward, who was tipped to shine with the new 8 man interchange, will get a chance to do just that on Saturday.

Watson Boas – forms a partnership of brothers in the half and only made his debut for the PNG Hunter this season. A real electric talent to match the more experienced brother Ase.


Sisa Waqa                                                            Canberra Raiders

Tyrone Phillips                                                   Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Junior Roqica                                                     Cronulla Sharks

James Storer                                                      Illawarra – Port Kembla

Brayden Wiliame                                              Manly Warringah Sea Eagles

Fabian Goodall                                                  Manly Warringah Sea Eagles

Benjamin Nakubuwai                                     Melbourne Storm

Maurice Kennedy                                            Mounties

Akuila Uate                                                         Newcastle Knights

Daniel Saifiti                                                       Newcastle Knights

Korbin Sims                                                        Newcastle Knights

Sitiveni Moceidreke                                        North Sydney Bears

Eloni Vunakece                                                                 Sydney Roosters

Kane Evans                                                         Sydney Roosters

Kevin Naiqama                                                  West Tigers

Etuate Tamanikaitai Qionimacawa            Fiji based

Iliavi Chris Ravu                                                 Fiji based

Ratu Jowasa Tubailagi Drodrolagi              Fiji based

Tui Kamikamica                                                 Sunshine Coast Falcons

Tuimasi Pio Moceiwaiyevo Seci                  Fiji based

Players to Watch:

Kane Evans – given some of the hits this Rooster provides in the NRL, the anticipation of the first big collision between Evans and the PNG forwards is huge. Given the massive frame of Evans, he may prove quite the handful for the Kumuls.

Kevin Naiqama – the man with the big hair from the Wests Tigers will love the big stage of this international match and is your likely candidate for first try scorer and headaches for the PNG side.

Finally, the local Fijian based players with names as interesting as will almost be worth watching as it may uncover the new superstar of rugby league that otherwise the rugby league world would never know about.

Other Articles

Comments (1)

  1. Kumuls will easily overcome them. Kumuls have record in defeating the pacific nations over years.
    Last gaem with Batis was that Batis were overrated and Kumuls undermined themselves.

Leave a Reply

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Translate »