PNG Kumuls Lineup for Pacific Challenge Week 3 Showdown with Fiji Bati

The Papua New Guinea Kumuls have been bolstered by the return of prolific try scorer Alex Johnston for their Pacific Challenge Week 3 showdown with the Fiji Bati at the Santos National Football Stadium in Port Moresby this Sunday.

Johnston, who holds the Sydney Rabbitohs’ all-time try-scoring record of 184 tries, is back in the Kumul camp after a bye week and is eager to make his mark on the international stage. He is determined to change his statistic of not finding the try line often for the Kumuls since his debut, and is motivated by the presence of his family, who will be flying in from Australia to support him.

Johnston’s return is boosted by the inclusion of UK Leigh Leopards superstar, Edwin Ipape, in the starting 13. This dynamic hooker is expected to add flair and pace to the Kumuls’ attack, and is passionate about wearing the Kumul jumper with pride.

The Kumuls will be looking to build on their impressive 46-10 victory over the Cook Islands in Week 1, while the Bati will be aiming to improve from their narrow 22-18 win to Cook Islands in Week 2.

Papua New Guinea’s coach, Justin Holbrook, has emphasized the importance of the matchup, stating,

“This is a huge game for us. We want to finish the Pacific Challenge on a high and prove that we are one of the best teams in the region.”

While Fiji Bati boasts a powerful lineup, PNG continues to excel at home with unwavering support from the crowd. The two teams last met in the 2022 Pacific Cup Challenge in Townsville, where PNG emerged victorious with a 24-14 win.

This Sunday’s game is anticipated to be an intense battle, setting the stage for a thrilling conclusion to the Pacific Challenge. The stakes are higher than ever, and rugby league fans around the Pacific and Melanesia eagerly await the clash between these two Melanesian nations.

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