The Kumuls are scheduled to play Pacific island neighbours Tonga on October 19 in a historical return to the Test arena at the Lae Rugby League Oval after an 11 year absence.
And to spice up the Kumul selection process, the PNGRFL has opened the door wider to identify talent from all affiliated leagues nationwide.
With the PNGRFL reconnecting with rural leagues through the Team Kumul programme, talent identified from the Southern, Highlands, Northern and New Guinea Islands zones selection trials have the chance to impress national selectors.
PNGRFL board chairman Sandis Tsaka confirmed that the Kumul Test squad would be identified from the PNG Hunters franchise playing in the Queensland Cup, the Digicel Cup competition and the National Zone Championships slated for September 13-16 in Lae.
“In a nutshell a player who gets picked from the Koiari league to make the Southern Zone team can make it all the way if he’s good enough,” Tsaka said.
He said if a rural league player impressed at the National Zone Championships, he could get a call-up to the National All-stars team comprising of the best zone players.
“This newly-established format will see the best from the affiliated leagues under the national all-stars concept play the best from our semi-professional Digicel Cup competition as part of the Kumul selection process.”
Tsaka said following the National Zone Championships a National All-Stars team would be selected to play the Digicel Cup All-Stars in the curtainraiser to the annual PNG Prime Minister’s XIII match against the Australian PM’s 13 on October 12 at Kalabond.
Tsaka said the PM’s XIII would be primarily drawn from the Hunters and other notable talents.
“This will affectively allow selectors to see all our homegrown players from both matches at the same venue to finalise the Kumul side that will play Tonga the following weekend in Lae,” Tsaka said.
He said this was one of the new initiatives under the Team Kumul programme that the PNGRFL was embarking on to revive the game through development.