|Paniu and Maki. Photo Hull Daily Mail|
PAPUA New Guinea coach Adrian Lam believes Hull KR are signing two talented players from his squad in Enoch Maki and Francis Paniu. The Mail can reveal they are the pair due to sign for the Robins in 2014 following the World Cup, for which they are currently based in the city.
Lam feels prop Maki would be good enough to play in the NRL and says Paniu, who can play in the second row or as an outside back, has a bright future ahead too. Both players are expected to feature strongly for the Kumuls in the coming weeks, with Rovers fans having a first chance to see them in action when facing France at Craven Park on Sunday, October 27.
Maki and Paniu took part in the team’s first training session at Hessle Rugby Club yesterday morning as they put the final touches to their preparations ahead of a warm-up match with Scotland at Featherstone on Saturday.
“Both are a big part of our squad going forward,” Lam told the Mail. “They are a little bit raw at the moment but they are certainly talented.
“We have watched their games develop. Enoch is one of my favourite players in the squad. I feel he can play in the NRL and he’s one to keep an eye on. Francis is one of the many talented outside backs we have.”
Paniu lined up on the wing and full-back during yesterday’s training session, while Maki operated on the shoulder of Neville Costigan, who will also be at Rovers next season, in the front row.
Both players played for the Kumuls in their 52-10 defeat to the Australian PM’s XIII at the Kalabond Oval in Kokopo before flying to the UK.
Lam expects more of his Kumuls squad to be signed up after the World Cup, as has happened after previous tournaments. Following the 1995 tournament, Rovers signed John Okul and Stanley Gene. Makali Aizue joined Rovers several years later and helped the club win promotion to Super League in 2006. After a successful World Cup in 2008, Sheffield Eagles signed Menzie Yere while Jessie Joe Parker signed for Featherstone Rovers.
Lam expects more of his current squad to join Costigan, Maki and Paniu by plying their trade in England next season.
“When we were in Hull for the 1995 World Cup, we left four or five players behind who had signed for English clubs,” he said. “They have been fans’ favourites ever since and hopefully we can see the same happen this time around.
“I was fortunate enough to play five years at Wigan as well and I was able to watch those players develop. All these players have an opportunity to put themselves in the shop window of world rugby league.”
Source: Hull Daily Mail