PNG Kumuls and Orchids: PM’s 13 and Tri-Nations Rugby League Pacific Cup

In a significant stride towards advancing rugby league in Papua New Guinea (PNG), the announcement of Justin Holbrook’s appointment as the head coach of the PNG Kumuls marks a pivotal moment. This news arrives at a crucial time as PNG continues to strategically enhance its domestic pathway systems, a key element of its aspiration to join the NRL.

Justin Holbrook, renowned for his role as the assistant coach for the Roosters under Trent Robinson, has now taken up the reins as the head coach of the PNG Kumuls in 2023. The timing aligns perfectly as this transition allows ample preparation time for the upcoming pivotal four-week tri-series, set to kick off on October 15th. This tri-series, featuring Fiji and the Cook Islands, culminates in a grand final on Sunday, November 5th.

Expressing his satisfaction at this landmark appointment, Wapu Sonk, Chairman of PNG LNG Kumuls, acknowledged the significance of securing a highly sought-after coach like Holbrook. The move adds substantial momentum to PNG’s journey from the September PM’s 13 all the way through to the Tri-Nations involving Fiji, Tonga, and PNG.

Holbrook, formerly associated with the Titans, is currently serving as the assistant coach to Roosters’ Trent Robinson. However, he will now play a pivotal role in guiding the Kumuls through the Australia and PNG PM’s 13 Game and the subsequent Tri-Nations. Holbrook himself expressed his enthusiasm for the opportunity, noting the rapid growth of the team’s reputation.

Chairman Sonk also took the occasion to unveil the Junior Kumuls and Junior Orchids coaches. Joe Grimmer, with a strong background in development programs, will lead the Junior Kumuls, while Solomon Koliniasi will take charge of the Junior Orchids. These appointments set the stage for the PM’s 13 Annual Fixture between PNG and Australia in September, preceding the Pacific Cup Championships in October and November.

Stanley Hondina, PNG NRL CEO, commented on the rigorous selection process for the head coach role, noting the remarkable coaching credentials of Justin Holbrook. With a short turnaround time, Holbrook’s impressive track record made the decision clear. Hondina also used the opportunity to announce the reappointment of Ben Jeffries as the Santos Orchids head coach, further solidifying the leadership team in PNG’s rugby league journey.

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