Cronulla Sharks hooker James Segeyaro has been named captain of the Papua New Guinea Kumuls for Saturday’s Melanesian Cup clash with the Fiji Bati in Sydney.
Segeyaro debuted for the Kumuls at last year’s rugby league World Cup and is the son of former Kumul Ifisoe Segeyaro.
Kumuls coach Michael Marum said Segeyaro played well in four Tests last year and had been impressive this season for the Sharks.
“It’s a bit different to when he first came into the side last year. He didn’t know what to expect from the team,” Marum said.
“This year when we got into camp on Monday night he was there waiting for everyone. He’s grown to be a senior player in the team now so we gave him the captaincy,” he said.
“I know he’s going to lead the team out there really well on Saturday.”
World Cup skipper David Mead was not considered for selection while he plays in the UK Super League.
Marum was forced to reshuffle his 17 man team this week after PNG Hunters fullback Alex Wera received a two match suspension from the Queensland Rugby League judiciary for biting.
“Alex Wera got suspended for a biting charge from last weekend’s game against the Ipswich Jets,” Marum said.
“We didn’t fight the charge so we took an early guilty plea which is two games,” he said.
Melbourne Storm centre Justin Olam will drop back to fullback to face the Bati with Hunters captain Ase Boas moving onto the bench.
After a bout of dengue fever and some indifferent form for the Hunters, Ase Boas did not make the initial Kumuls squad but was a late inclusion after winger Nene MacDonald sustained a shoulder injury while playing for the St George Illawarra Dragons.
Rather than calling up another player to replace Wera, Marum said it made sense to promote six-cap veteran Ase Boas to the 17.
After the dengue fever he didn’t play well these last two matches (for the Hunters),” Marum said.
“It was easier for us to get someone for the team that already knows the players and there was no need for us to apply for visas and passports,” he said.
“His experience is what we rely on. I’ve spoken to him and he realises he needs to lift his game to Test level football so he’ll come off the bench and play somewhere in the backline.”
Ase’s brother and Hunters teammate Watson Boas has been named at half-back for the Kumuls along side Lachlan Lam at stand-off.
Lam has played just once for the Kumuls against the USA at the World Cup and is part of the Sydney Roosters youth team.
“Anytime you can pull on the jersey no matter where you’re going to play is going to be special but starting makes it even better,” Lam said.
Having 10 Hunters players in the Kumuls is “one of the biggest benefits,” according to Lam, while “everyone else outside of that is pretty close as well”.
“It helps that I was in camp with the boys before coming into this Test,” he said.
Marum said he was looking forward to Lam taking the lead as the playmaker.
“With Watson Boas in there he’ll have a good combination together with James at hooker,” Marum said.
Two players will debut for the Kumuls on Saturday with the Hunter’s Junior Rau named on the wing and Hunters second rower Rhadley Brawa on the bench.
1. Justin OLAM, 2. Junior RAU, 3. Thompson TETEH, 4. Willie MINOGA, 5. Richard PANDIA, 6. Lachlan LAM, 7. Watson BOAS, 8. Stanton ALBERT, 9. James SEGEYARO – Captain, 10. Luke PAGE, 11. Rhyse MARTIN, 12. Nixon PUTT, 13. Rod GRIFFIN
14. Kurt BAPTISTE, 15. Rhadley BRAWA, 16. Enock MAKI, 17. Ase BOAS