Five things we learned from PNG vs. GB

Great Britain Lions fell to a 28-10 defeat against Papua New Guinea this morning, to bring an end to a tour to forget.

The Lions had led 10-0 thanks to tries from Josh Hodgson and Blake Austin, but then conceded 28 unanswered points.

Here is what we learned:

Players ran out of steam

It was extremely alarming to see the players run out of steam the way that they did in the second half.

After such a fantastic start, the positional frailties became very clear, and the Lions were just out-enthused by the Kumuls in the second half.

Mistakes started to creep in and the hosts pounced.

It has been a very demanding tour physically for the players. Some had hardly any rest before they were on the plane to New Zealand.

But when the Kumuls came out for the Lions, they had a staggering lack of answers.

Bennett’s selection gamble doesn’t pay off

A lot was made in the week of this test of Wayne Bennett’s decision to leave the first 13 the way it was during their defeat against the Kiwis.

On that occasion, the squad was heavily criticised, with players being used out of position and lack of creativity a frequent complaint.

Leeds Rhinos winger Ash Handley was flown out, reportedly to play in that game, but he was left out and halfback Austin continued on the wing.

Not only that, a few players were not playing in their true positions. Jonny Lomax has not played at fullback for two years at club level, yet he was deployed there. Jack Hughes in a natural second-rower but was played in the centre, and James Graham, who normally plays at prop, was at loose forward.

All of it can head towards a lack of cohesion, as players are used to playing a certain position for their club, and then another for their country.

Energy pays off

That Lions side could definitely learn a few things from the Kumuls side today.

The energy shown by the hosts was contagious, it was felt in the crowds, it was felt in commentary, and it was felt by anyone watching the game.

Great Britain on the other hand, showed no such energy. They looked leggy, tired and ultimately toothless.

The atmosphere around this tour has been absolutely toxic. There was a feeling that everybody involved just wanted the match, and subsequently the tour to end.

But credit to Papua New Guinea, whose energy won the day for them.

A change is needed

Whether it be at the top, the bottom, wherever, a change is desperately needed to address this tour.

From the squad and team selections, to the actual performances, it has been far below expectations for everyone involved.

Granted if all had been fit, you can guarantee the likes of Tommy Makinson, James Roby and Sean O’Loughlin would have all got in.

But from the players selected, you would have expected better from players that have Super League medals, Challenge Cup medals and NRL experience to put up more of a fight than they did.

Should the Lions concept be scrapped?

Whatever way you look at it, the tour has been a disaster, with disappointment after disappointment.

Now some are asking, should this have even been attempted?

Great Britain has been a concept right from the start of rugby league, but was scrapped in 2007 to allow the growth of the individual nations.

But they came back for a one off tour this year, and some are saying that should be it.

Whilst the Lions does showcase the best of UK talent and heritage, it does mean some players do miss out in representing their heritage.

The prime example of this is Regan Grace, who led Wales in the recent Nines World Cup, but he missed out on selection for the Lions squad.

If a tour does happen again, then a lot more thought needs putting into it, with regards to selections and tactics.

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[…] It has been a disastrous tour from the Lions, as they had lost all four of their matches, including this morning against Papua New Guinea. […]