Sport: PNG Kumuls name inexperienced side to face Toa Samoa

9:17 am on 19 June 2019

Seven debutants been named in the Papua New Guinea Kumuls match-day squad for Saturday night's Oceania Cup rugby league test against Toa Samoa.

Edene Gebbie will start at fullback with Xavier Coates and late call-up Brandon Nima partnered in the centres, while Edwin Ipape and Kyle Laybutt combine in the halves.

Terry Wapi gets his chance on the right wing, after only four appearance for the PNG Hunters, with Zev John is also set to earn his first test cap off the bench.

Left winger Junior Rau is the only member of the starting backline with test experience, having made his debut 12 months ago, although four of the newcomers did feature against the England B team at the end of last year but have yet to make their full test debut.

Head coach Michael Marum said the Kumuls lack of experience has been compounded by a couple of key withdrawals.

"Justin Olam pulled his hamstring during training last week with the Melbourne Storm so he wasn't allowed to train with us or come and join us. Lachlam Lam is the latest one - he's been ruled out by Roosters medical staff because of his injured that's a setback for us but we believe in the side we have here," Michael Marum said.

The PNG Kumuls squad to face Toa Samoa in the 2019 Oceania Cup.

The PNG Kumuls squad to face Toa Samoa in the 2019 Oceania Cup. Photo: Facebook/PNG Rugby League

There's a lot of belief in PNG circles about the potential of Brisbane Broncos teenager Xavier Coates, who produced a man-of-the-match performance for Queensland in the Under 18s State of Origin earlier this year.

Michael Marum said the 18 year old has been on their radar for a while.

"We had him down in the squad for the past two years and we thought it was good for him to come in around this time so he's a good young kid. He's a big boy: the boys met him at the airport yesterday but looking up on him he's just so big and he's only young, so hopefully he has a good week of preparations with us and goes out there and does his job for the team," Mr Marum said.

PNG Hunters fullback Terry Wapi earns his first test start less than month after making his debut for the PNG Hunters but Michael Marum said his form has been impossible to ignore.

"He came in from the Digicel Cup, we watched him at the beginning of the season. He played with the Agmark Gurias there and in four rounds he got man of the we brought him in to the (Hunters) side. In his first game he was outstanding (and in) the second game. Third game he was a bit quiet, he was marked by the Cutters team, but last weekend he had another strong game, he got the man of the match too," Michael Marum said.

Sydney Roosters winger Bernard Lewis has been called into the Kumuls squad as 18th man.

Michael Marum says while there are a lot of players new to the test arena most of the players already know each other or have played together at club or international level over the past two years.

Meanwhile all five Toa Samoa debutantes have been included in the run-on team for Saturday night's Oceania Cup clash at Leichhardt Oval.

Chanel Harris-Tavita on debut for the Warriors

Warriors playmaker Chanel Harris-Tavita will start for Toa Samoa against PNG. Photo: © Copyright Andrew Cornaga / Photosport Ltd 2019

Jamayne Isaako will line up at fullback after switching allegiance from New Zealand, Hymel Hunt and Marion Seve will form a new pairing in the centres while Chanel Harris-Tavita gets the nod at standoff.

Jaydn Su'A will make his test debut in the second row alongside Raymond Faitala-Mariner, who is back in blue after representing New Zealand last year while Martin Taupau will start at lock in his first test for Samoa since 2013.

PNG matchday squad:

1. Edene Gebbie, 2. Junior Rau, 3. Brandon Nima, 4. Xavier Coates, 5. Terry Wapi, 6. Edwin Ipape, 7. Kyle Laybutt, 8. Enock Maki, 9. James Segeyaro (c), 10. Luke Page, 11. Rhyse Martin, 12. Nixon Putt, 13. Moses Meninga. Interchange: 14. Kurt Baptiste, 15. Zev John, 16. Radley Brawa, 17. Stanton Albert. Reserve: Bernard Lewis.

Samoa matchday squad:

1. Jamayne Isaako, 2. Jorge Taufua, 3. Hymel Hunt, 4. Marion Seve, 5. David Nofoaluma, 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita, 7. Anthony Milford, 8. Junior Paulo, 9. Jarome Luai, 10. James Gavet, 11. Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 12. Jaydn Su'A, 13. Martin Taupau. Interchange: 14. Mason Lino, 15. Michael Chee-Kam, 16. Herman Ese'ese, 17. Josh Aloioi. Reserve: 18. Fa'amanu Brown.