A defiant performance by Papua New Guinea's Kumuls against an almost test strength Australian Prime Minister's XIII has sent a signal to the Kiwis to expect to encounter strong opposition when they take on Papua New Guinea in Rotorua in just three weeks' time.
Just 4-0 up at half-time the Australian Prime Minister's XIII managed to hold the Stanley Gene-coached Kumuls to a hard-fought 30-18 loss in Port Moresby recently in what was an important Four Nations championship warm up for both teams.
Events and Venues Rotorua general manager Peter McLeod said that result vindicated Papua New Guinea's participation in the Four Nations tournament.
"It's a clear warning they will be a very competitive team. The strong Aussie side was made up from players selected for the Four Nations training squad from all but the grand final clubs and was very close to the final Australian Four Nations selection.
"Any team that takes Papua New Guinea lightly would be taking a very huge risk," McLeod said.
The Kumuls won the right to participate in the Four Nations this year after winning a South Pacific qualifying tournament last year.
They reigned supreme in a tournament that included Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands.
In the 2008 World Cup Papua New Guinea found themselves in the so-called "pool of death" coming up against the three teams they will meet in this year's Four Nations Championship - New Zealand, Australia and England.
In their first match only a late rally by England to scratch out a 32-22 victory prevented the Kumuls from achieving one of rugby league's great upsets. They also acquitted themselves well against both Australia and New Zealand in their other matches.
The second-round match in the Four Nations will be played at Rotorua International Stadium on Saturday October 30 at 6pm.
The curtainraiser is a match between the Junior Kiwis and Junior Kangaroos at 4pm.
Tickets are available from Ticketmaster outlets, Mad Butcher stores in Rotorua, by phone on 0800 111 999 or online from www.ticketmaster.co.nz.