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Papua New Guinea

ON DEBUT

Australian-based Zev John makes Kumul squad for England match

RUGBY LEAGUE
BY SIMON KESLEP

HE was speechless and lost for words on receiving the news of his selection into the PNG LNG Kumuls to play the visiting England Knights later this month.

“I was speechless and lost for words. It took a few hours for me to process and take it all in. I finally accepted reality, and was really happy and grateful for the opportunity,” said debutant Zev John, 20, from Togoba in Hagen Central, Western Highlands Province.

He told the Post-Courier that when he was growing up in Papua New Guinea he was a number one fan of the PNG Kumuls and watching his fellow countrymen play always gave him the motivation to strive for the best and to one day get a call up.

He thanked PNG LNG Kumuls coach Michael Marum and the selectors for giving him an opportunity to play for Papua New Guinea, a country he loves dearly.

His rugby league career kicked off at Togoba when he was young and always looking up to former Kumuls like Francis Ray and George Moni as his role models.

“Every time, I watched them play I would always think I would be like them one day,” he said.

“My rugby league journey started at the age of 15 playing for Wiz-co Panthers back at Togoba, Western Highlands Province. When I was brought to Melbourne, I joined a club called Altona Roosters playing U18s in 2015 and 2016,” Zev said.

He played first grade last year at the age of 19 which saw him grabbing the NRL Victoria First Grade Player of the Year.

“I was fortunate enough to play representative football for the Victorian Thunderbolts U18s (Melbourne Storm Development) in 2016 and I also played for the Victorian Men’s Team last year,” he said.

Zev told the Post-Courier he then went on to play for the Victorian Thunderbolts U20s again last year and this year in the Colts Hastings Deering QLD Cup.

He primarily plays prop but also prefers playing as second row and lock forward.

He also thanked his guardian Zev Wegan and partner Robyn Holt for their continuous support in Melbourne through thick, thin, injuries, setbacks and always holding his head up high to strive for better.

“I would also give special thanks to Justin Olam who is not only a Big PNG brother but like a father and coach/mentor always guiding me throughout this past two years to become not only better at rugby league but as a sports person in general. I thank my coaches and staff of Victorian Thundersbolts team along my local club Altona Roosters,” he said.

He said he cannot wait to meet up with fellow countrymen and run onto the field with them.

“Especially playing alongside Justin Olam at this state would be a dream come through for me as I am his number one fan. Putting on the Kumuls Jersey would be a really big honour not only for me but my family also back at home in Togoba, WHP and here in Melbourne, AUS,” said Zev.

Zev completed High School at Footscray City College last year 2017 and currently doing first year of tertiary education at Victoria University pursuing a Bachelor of Sports Science.

He is the eldest in the family and has three younger brothers and two sisters back at home in Togoba, WHP. He currently weighs 95kg and stand at 5’ 10” (178cm).

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