PAUL Aiton has warned Wales and Ireland they are in for a shock when they head to Papua New Guinea, a land where he is totally disconnected.
The Kumuls are co-hosts of the Rugby League World Cup and will play all their group games in the capital Port Moresby.
That means both the Irish and Welsh must journey into enemy territory and battle it out in the only country on the planet where rugby league is the national sport.
Games in the nation often attract wild sell-out crowds, with just as many people outside the stadium taking out their anger that they did not get in on police.
If Youtube videos are to be believed, riots often ensue but the gun-toting security guards are definitely true, as is the fact one year an overfilled stand collapsed, killing a number of people.
And Catalans hooker Aiton believes John Kear’s and Mark Aston’s sides should brace themselves for something completely different.
“I think it will be both a shock and a great experience for them at the same time,” he said.
“It will be something just to see how much support PNG has for its rugby league side – and people certainly show it.
“The stadium in Port Moresby is new, so there will be no problems over that.
“Yes, there’s a lot of bad stuff happens at matches and that needs to be cut out but I’ve never had a problem when I’ve played there, and that’s since 2004.
“Fans have come on to the field before but nothing bad has ever happened, it’s just the people want to touch the Australian players or the Kumuls they have seen on TV many times.
“It’s very emotional playing for Papua New Guinea in Papua New Guinea, you can feel everyone watching right there behind you – man, woman and child.”
Papua New Guinea may be ready for another rugby league explosion – not least because many of the Kumuls’ players come from the SP Hunters side that won this year’s Queensland Cup.
More than 13,000 fans packed into the redeveloped national stadium to watch them take on an Australian Prime Minister’s XIII.
Away from the game, though, things could not be more different as Aiton hails from a village outside Mount Hagen that still has no
running water or electricity.
“We have a house in my grandfather’s village where we have solar panels and a device that collects rain water,” Aiton, 32 added.
“That’s better than having to wash in a creek – but we’re still self-sufficient. It makes it a bit more bearable, though!”
The most Britain has seen of Papua New Guinea was in a TV documentary by Ross Kemp in 2014, an episode where he was seen fighting off an armed guerrilla.
He described the country as ‘one of the most violent societies I’ve ever encountered’ but proud Papuan Aiton, who was at Leeds at the
time, was distinctly unimpressed.
He said: “I was pretty disappointed by it, but I suppose it made good TV.
“Straight away they went to all the places where people were drinking illegal alcohol 24/7. I know it’s TV but I thought it was pretty s***.”
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