Lam talks up PNG stars
Former Wigan Warriors favourite Adrian Lam reckons Super League clubs will be falling over themselves to snap up emerging talent from Papua New Guinea when he brings the Kumuls to England in October.
Lam is back in the country - for the first time since he left Wigan in 2004 - on a fact-finding trip ahead of the end-of-season World Cup, checking out training facilities and the form of the six PNG players based in England.
He watched Wakefield Trinity Wildcats hooker Paul Aiton in action against Hull KR on Sunday and is catching up on the progress of Huddersfield Giants second rower Jason Chan as well as Championship players Menzie Yere (Sheffield), Rodney Pore and Jessie Joe Parker (both Whitehaven) and Makali Aizue (Dewsbury).
"Everyone is under consideration," said Lam, who will be taking part in his fourth World Cup, his second as head coach.
Lam will be able to call on several stars from the NRL but he is more excited by the amount of talent available in the domestic game in PNG, where rugby league is the national sport.
"I think we'll be the team with the most local-based players outside the big three," he said.
"I think we'll bring a squad of 22 and that may include 12 locals, five or six of which are really talented.
"I think once the Super League see them, they'll be snapped up straight away. Three of them are pretty special, as good as any in the world.
"Once the Super League clubs see these young kids, they'll be all over them. They'll be in the shop window and they'll be cheap."
The youngsters will be aiming to follow in the footsteps of Stanley Gene, who arrived with the 1995 Kumuls and stayed in England after the World Cup to enjoy a long and productive career with Hull KR, Hull FC, Huddersfield and Bradford Bulls.
Gene is now on the backroom staff at Craven Park, where PNG will open their campaign with a group B match against France on Sunday, October 27.
Samoa and holders New Zealand are the other teams in a tough-looking group, with three to qualify for the quarter-finals.
"We're trying to prepare the best we can," Lam said. "We know it's going to be tough but I think we'll go okay."
Lam and newly-appointed high-performance manager Mal Meninga, the all-time Kangaroos great, intend to bring their team over early in order to acclimatise and are close to arranging a warm-up match.
"We'll try to get a lead-up game first, with Scotland hopefully," Lam added. “We're a fair way down the track with them.
"We don't play enough matches as a country. We've slipped to sixth in the world rankings. We've played New Zealand twice in nearly 20 years which is outrageous when you think about it.
"But we're starting to do things right in Papua New Guinea and a good result in this World Cup would take us forward."