Having felt the wrath of the Papua New Guinea Kumuls earlier this year, Cook Islands international Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has sounded an ominous warning ahead of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
‘CNK’ played in the 32-22 defeat to the Kumuls in May’s Pacific Test, ranking it as one of the most brutal encounters he has endured in his career to date.
“They are so physical those boys and I have spoken to other players who have played against them as well and they felt the same, that it is one of the toughest games that they have ever gone through,” Nicoll-Klokstad said.
“One hundred percent I pulled out of that game feeling worse than I was after my NRL debut.
“The challenge for them will be being able to do that week on week against quality sides at the World Cup.
“They are a quality side and their Queensland Cup side has been one of the best, so it shows they are not a side to be messed around with.
“They have got a lot of great talent and I am sure they will go deep into the World Cup and hopefully they do well for their country.”
— PNG Kumuls (@PNGKumulsRL) October 9, 2017
The Kumuls will head into the World Cup buoyed by the success of the SP Hunters, who won Queensland’s Intrust Super Cup, and are boosted further by the inclusion of NRL regulars David Mead, James Segeyaro, Nene MacDonald and Kurt Baptiste in their squad.
But it’s the fact that they play all their of their group games in Port Moresby which Nicoll-Klokstad believes will make all the difference for Papua New Guinea.
“I can only imagine [how big it will be], they had a lot of supporters at our game, filled with pride, but for them to have a whole country there would be special,” he said.
“I heard for our game that they had people walking for days to get to a TV and watch their boys.
“A nation like that, to put themselves in that arena will be really special for them and I wish them all the best.”
Papua New Guinea open their World Cup campaign with a match against Wales, before facing seventh-ranked Ireland and the United States.