Broncos allegiances put aside for Cup clash
Papua New Guinea captain David Mead had just finished celebrating the Kumuls' World Cup victory against Wales when his phone rang.
Their 50-6 win was a historic occasion for PNG; the country was enjoying its first ever home World Cup game. On the other line? Wayne Bennett, his club coach at the Broncos, 24 hours after leading England to an 18-4 loss to Australia.
"He actually rang me after our first game against Wales and just congratulated me on a great start for the tournament," Mead said.
"He kind of mentioned he'd be seeing me in Melbourne, so that's probably his good luck message to me."
Mead was thankful for his Broncos' mentor's gesture. The PNG skipper is well aware of what he will bring on Sunday as the opposing coach, but isn't focusing too much on England.
"He's a great coach, and he's going to have England prepared the best they can, so they can come out and play well," he said.
"With him in their side, it's certainly going to boost them. We're just going to focus on what we're going to do on Sunday afternoon, and go out there and play as a team, and hopefully get the result."
PNG has waltzed through their three pool games winning by a combined 128-12. Mead says his side are working to fix their error-rate.
"If you give a side like England easy ball, they're going to make the most of it," he said.
"I think that's a big part of our game to fix up, continue to work on our defense which has been pretty good so far."
The fullback is one of the Kumuls' eight NRL-contracted players. It's his third World Cup and he's delighted to use his experience as a leader.
"It's a huge honour for me. To have the calibre of players in this team, to be there to help support me is pretty special. There's really not much I can say to express how I truly feel about it, but I'm just honoured."
"Obviously we've got a lot of people in Papua New Guinea who support our team. To be able to progress through the pool games and make the quarter-finals is pretty special for us."