After their win against Italy last week Ireland will be looking to move one step close to the World Cup quarter finals, however they must first face a very strong Papua New Guinea side.
Papua New Guinea picked up a 50-6 win over fellow group c opponents Wales last week in Port Moresby. Their captain David Mead proved why he is one of the top stars in the NRL scoring PNG’s first ever World Cup hat trick as he led his side to victory at the National Football Stadium.
Mark Aston’s Ireland were underdogs when they faced Italy at Barlow Park last Sunday, and they travel to Port Moresby as underdogs once again. The players know that whoever wins this weekend will secure a place in the quarter finals, and the fact that only one team from group c can make the knockout stages is a bigger incentive for the boys in green.
Against Italy, Ireland made a total of 1235 metres compared to Italy’s 1087, another key stat that gave clear indication of how good Ireland’s defence was the amount of tackles that the Wolfhounds made. They made a total of 304 tackles against the “Azzurri” who themselves made 299.
Before the tournament began head coach Mark Aston expected Ireland to play with a smile on their face and after last weeks determination they sure looked like they played that way.
On their arrival into Papua New Guinea the Ireland team headed to a number of educational facilities to teach the local children about the sport of rugby league and how important it is to the players from both squads camps.
Rugby league is the national sport of Papua New Guinea and their national side play all three Group Stage games at the National Football Stadium.
PNG are currently ranked 16th in the world, whilst their Group C opponents Wales and Ireland are ranked ninth and eighth. They are the second-lowest ranked side in the competition behind Lebanon, who upset France and picked up their first ever World Cup points.
Papua New Guinea’s side features most of the players from the PNG Hunters squad that won the 2017 Queensland Cup, as well as a number of NRL stars such as David Meade and Garry Lo – who recently moved from Sheffield Eagles to Super League side Castleford.
Head coach Mark Aston has named the same squad that played last week whilst PNG head coach Michael Marum has made a number of changes.
PNG V IRELAND
Sunday November 5, 4pm at Oil Search National Football Stadium in Port Moresby
PNG squad: 1 David Mead (C) 2 Justin Olam 3 Kato Ottio 4 Nene Macdonald 5 Garry Lo 6 Ase Boas 7 Watson Boas 8 Stanton Albert 9 Kurt Baptiste 10 Luke Page 11 Rhyse Martin 12 Willie Minoga 13 Paul Aiton 14 James Segeyaro 15 Wellington Albert 16 Stargroth Amean 17 Enock Maki 18 Moses Meninga 19 Lachlan Lam 20 Nixon Putt 21 Wartovo Puara
Ireland squad: 1 Scott Grix 2 Shannon Mcdonnell 3 Ed Chamberlain 4 Michael Morgan 5 Liam Kay 6 Api Pewhairangi 7 Liam Finn (C) 8 Brad Singleton 9 Michael Mcillorum 10 Kyle Amor 11 Louie Mccarthy-Scarsbrook 12 Oliver Roberts 13 George King 14 Tyrone Mccarthy 15 James Hasson 16 Joe Philbin 17 Anthony Mullaly 18 Will Hope 19 Joe Keyes 20 Matty Hadden 21 Jack Higginson