Rhyse Martin: It means everything to everyone in PNG for us to play and win

Rhyse Martin Papua New Guinea PA Credit: Alamy
Rhyse Martin Papua New Guinea PA Credit: Alamy

Rhyse Martin says the support of fans back home will be the inspiration behind their quarter-final clash against England on Saturday in the World Cup. 

Papua New Guinea face hosts England in the second quarter-final, with Australia claiming a spot in the semi-finals following their 48-4 victory over Lebanon.

The Kumuls lost 36-6 to then-Wayne Bennett’s England at the 2017 tournament Down Under. They did however claim a shock victory over the touring Great Britain side in 2019 in Port Moresby.

Shaun Wane’s England completed the group stages unbeaten, claiming wins over Samoa, France and Greece to secure their quarter-finals spot. Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea won twice to claim their place from group D, with Tonga finishing top spot.

A win will see either side secure a spot in the semi-finals at the Emirates Stadium next Saturday.

Rhyse Martin: We just want to do them proud

“It means everything to everyone in Papua New Guinea for us to play and win,” said Martin. “It’ll be something special over there this weekend, something that probably everybody needs to experience. Just the passion and love they have for the sport.

“It’s no burden for us, it’s excitement, the boys representing where they come from and generations of their families wanting to be a Kumul. Whether we win or lose the fans will always stand by the Kumuls, so we just want to do them proud.”

England captain Sam Tomkins returns for the side after being rested for their final group game against Greece. And the Catalans full-back insists his team-mates won’t look beyond Saturday’s opposition.

“We’re not underestimating Papua New Guinea so we’re going to play our strongest side I believe,” said Tomkins. “There are players that aren’t in the 17 who are well capable of getting in many national sides.

“Injuries in our game are inevitable and I’m sure we’ll pick some up over the next few weeks. But we’ve got a very strong 24 so whichever 17 put goes out will be well capable.

“They’re a physical side. If we let their middles be dominant, they’ve got some big outside-backs and their half-backs are pivotal.

“They like to run the ball and they kick very well so we need to do a job on their middles and give their half-backs as little time as possible.”

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