PNG to target Aussie big men

Kangaroos prop David Shillington has warned team-mates to expect the unexpected when Australia takes on Papua New Guinea in their opening Four Nations clash at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday.<br><br>Although without superstars Jonathan Thurston, Jarryd Hayne and Greg Inglis for the tournament, the Australians will still field a powerful if somewhat new-look team under coach Tim Sheens.<br><br>With very little known about the predominantly part-time Kumuls the Kangaroos will start the game as unbackable favourites – but Shillington for one won’t be taking the opposition lightly.<br><br>Standing at 194cm, Shillington has become something of a target for the hard-hitting Kumuls and still has the memories of the type of punishment the PNG players dished out against the Prime Minister’s XIII in Port Moresby last year.<br><br>“The taller blokes like myself, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Trent Waterhouse, we’d get picked up off the ground a little bit because they were at that perfect hitting height, right up under our rib cage,” Shillington told NRL.com. “A bit like Trevor Gillmeister – that kind of height.<br><br>“On my first run I got picked up and dropped on my head and Trent Waterhouse got picked up a couple of times. I’ll remember that going into this game, to make sure I get my body position down a bit lower and be aware of their body size because they’re just at that perfect hitting height.”<br><br>Although he has only three Test caps to his name, the 27-year-old is one of the more experienced players in terms of games against the Kumuls. He first played in PNG as part of the 2002 Junior Kangaroos and played in Prime Minister’s XIII games in 2007 and 2009.<br><br>And while knowledge of their opponents is scarce as it is, the Canberra prop insists that nothing can really prepare the Australians for what they will face on Sunday.<br><br>“We haven’t had much luck getting any footage of them so far but they’re pretty unpredictable, the PNG team,” he said.<br><br>“We have some sort of an idea of the style of footy that they play; they’re very strong, physical blokes. A lot of them are used to manual labour for their normal jobs so they’re tough, physical men.<br><br>“You never really know what they’re going to do. I remember some of their front-rowers throwing it out the back straight away, running across field… and I even remember some of the front-rowers putting kicks in. If the front-rowers can do that then who knows what their playmakers might be capable of!<br><br>“Because they love their footy so much, they’re all really skilful. They’re not playing for hundreds of thousands of dollars, they’re just playing because they have a passion for the game and they’re all quite skilful and very hard, which are excellent qualities to have.”<br><br>Having established himself as a key member of the Queensland State of Origin team in 2010 Shillington is looking the man most likely to become the dominant front-rower for Australia once Petero Civoniceva steps aside from representative football.<br><br>In his second year for the Raiders Shillington was this year named the Dally M Prop of the Year and believes the move from the eastern suburbs of Sydney to Canberra, coupled with a greater level of maturity, have been integral to his development.<br><br>“It’s a bit of an old cliché about front-rowers not really maturing until their late 20s and I’m 27 now and really settled living in Canberra,” he said.<br><br>“Even someone like Petero Civoniceva didn’t start really dominating until he was 29 or 30 and was the main man for the Broncos and the main front-rower in both Origin and for Australia.<br><br>“So I think a little bit more age and experience has helped me, along with the great working environment down in Canberra.<br><br>“I’m really enjoying being part of the front-rowers’ club in camp. Tom Learoyd-Lahrs is obviously someone I work with every week in Canberra and get on really well with, Matt Scott and I roomed together for the three Origin games this year and Petero is a good mate now and someone I’ve always looked up to, and still do.”<br><br>And despite being 100 per cent in try conversion from kicks he put up in the NRL in 2010 (Raiders fullback Josh Dugan scored from Shillington’s only bomb of the year against the Knights in Round 19), Shillington has no intention of getting involved in any last-tackle options on Sunday.<br><br>“Maybe I was just trying to copy what [the PNG] front-rowers do,” Shillington joked. “I think that might be it for the rest of my career though, I won’t be doing that again.”<br><br>