The rise and rise of Tonga has been the story of international Rugby League since the last World Cup but do not underestimate a talented Papua New Guinea squad with plenty of experience.
Tonga have swept all before them since the last World Cup, even putting together a win over Australia in one of the most seminal moments in international Rugby League history. They have also sent a dynamic team that includes forwards Addin Fonua-Blake, Haumole Olakau’atu and David Fifita and backs Daniel Tupou and Will Penisini.
There are concerns about Tonga though. Their spine is very poor. They are missing Jason Taumalolo.
Papua New Guinea have not only a talented team but a cohesive one. Alex Johnston leads a talented back five that includes Justin Olam. The Lam/Laybutt halves pairing has worked. There is plenty of talent in the pack including a hooker who was named Championship player of the season.
PNG downed Fiji 24-14 in the mid-season Test and they did beat Great Britain in Port Moresby in 2019. This line is perhaps two converted tries too big.
Same Game Multi
Alex Johnston is on his way to become the greatest tryscorer in NRL history.
Tolatau Koula has six tries in his last eight games.
Powerhouse Justin Olam has six tries in 10 appearances for the Kumuls and has double figure tries in each of the last three years of the NRL. He will be a key element of what the Kumuls do.