Pacific Nations Cup to showcase attack - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Pacific Nations Cup to showcase attack

By Joanna Lester 22/10/2009 01:35:17 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta star Feleti Mateo has predicted an entertaining Pacific Cup tournament as he prepares to lead Tonga into Sunday's clash with hosts Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby.

With a strong representation of NRL stars competing over the two weekends, Mateo believes attacking football is going to be on the agenda with Fiji and the Cook Islands also renowned for throwing the ball around.

With a squad boasting Richard Fa'aoso from Newcastle and former Warriors backrower Epalahame Lauaki, Mateo's Tongan side is expected to be a major contender to win the Cup and the right to contest next year's Four Nations against Australia, New Zealand and England.

"We're pretty excited to be here because it's definitely a new experience for a lot of the boys," said Mateo, speaking from the team's training camp in Port Moresby.

"All the nations competing are known for their attacking flair so I think it's going to be a pretty entertaining tournament, especially with the dry conditions."

Fiji, semi-finalists in last year's World Cup, will open the tournament on Saturday when they clash with surprise qualifiers Cook Islands.

The Bati will be favoured to win the opening clash, with Newcastle centre Wes Naiqama and winger Akuila Uate returning to the Fijian national side.

But Fiji will be without their biggest weapon from last year's fairytale World Cup run, with superstar fullback Jarryd Hayne selected to play for Australia in the Four Nations being staged in the northern hemisphere.

The Cook Islands, who upset Samoa in Cairns last weekend to qualify for the tournament, will be the underdogs for the tournament with only a few Toyota Cup (NRL under 20s) players in their side.

Their squad includes Melbourne's Fred Makimare, St George Illawarra hooker Daniel Fepuleai and is coached by Parramatta NRL assistant David Fairleigh.

Papua New Guinea winger David Mead, who plays for the Gold Coast in the NRL, said playing on home soil will provide a massive boost for the Kumuls.

"It's going to be awesome running out in front of our home fans, it's hard to describe how excited they get," he said.

"They love their rugby league so it's great the tournament is being staged here.

"It's a real honour for me to wear the Kumuls jersey and I know all the other boys feel the same way."

The winners of this weekend's games will meet in the tournament final on November 1 to compete for a place in the Four Nations, while the losers will play a ranking match on October 31.

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