Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
This Saturday night Papua New Guinea will take on Fiji at Campbelltown Sports Stadium in the culmination of the week’s International fixtures.
Both nations are tipped to make it beyond the group stage at this year’s Rugby League World Cup and this game will be a good litmus test to see where both sides are at and what they need to improve on, although this is much more than a warm-up match especially for Papua New Guinea who will be farewelling their captain David Mead after the game as he retires from International Rugby League.
Mead has represented the Kumuls since 2008 and revealed the reason behind his retirement when speaking via the NRL’s official website.
“I just thought it would be a good opportunity for a young 19 or 20-year-old player to get a chance to showcase their talent so I think it is better for them to put on that jersey and get a good career out of it,” Mead said.
“That opportunity was given to me at that age, as well, so I think it would be pretty good to do that for them as well.
What a game! A look back at the last time Fiji Bati met Papua New Guinea 🇫🇯 🇵🇬 pic.twitter.com/T5i6wmYbbT
— NRL (@NRL) June 22, 2022
“I spoke to several family members a couple of months ago and I feel that now is the right time to say it because PNG is where it all started for me, so I wanted to say something this week while the camp was on.”
Papua New Guinea will not only be looking to give Mead a fitting send-off but will also be looking to get their second win against Fiji in the past half-decade.
Since 2017 the two nations have played each other twice in stand-alone International fixtures with Kumuls winning during the 2018 representative round at Campbelltown Sports Stadium with PNG getting a 26-14 win in an effort that saw Junior Rau score a double.
The next year Fiji would get their revenge though as the Bati defeated the Kumuls in a close game in Christchurch 22-20.
Fiji has not played in an international fixture since.
Papua New Guinea went on to beat Great Britain in Port Moresby one week later.
At one win a piece over the past five years both nations will be seeking bragging rights and momentum heading into the World Cup.