Papua New Guinea coach Stanley Tepend said England are the best team they’ve played at this World Cup after suffering defeat in the quarter-finals.
The Kumuls bowed out of the World Cup after falling to a 46-6 defeat to tournament hosts England at the DW Stadium on Saturday.
Papua New Guinea enjoyed success in the group stages, beating Wales and the Cook Islands as well as pushing Tonga close.
“England started really well,” Tepend said. “They caught us off guard and we hardly had any ball for 25 minutes in the first half.
“We spoke about it at half-time and came back in the second half trying to do what we spoke about and in the second half we showed we can play like the way we did.
“I think we won the second half so it was just frustrating in the first half. But credit to England, they really caught us off guard in the first half.
“The conditions suit them and they’ve got good players right through the whole squad. I think they are the best side we’ve played and they’ll be a threat in the semi-finals and final I think.”
Kumuls captain believes England can go all the way
England face the winner of Samoa v Tonga in next Saturday’s semi-final at the Emirates Stadium. Papua New Guinea captain Rhyse Martin, who plays for English club Leeds, reckons England are capable of winning the tournament.
“I think their style of play suits them,” Martin said. “They put pressure on us, rolled us through the middle and they’ve got some quality forwards there who are hard to handle and they’ve got the class at the end of it, so they could go all the way. But for us, we just weren’t good enough in the first half.
“We’re proud and we want to be passionate and respectful team and play the sport in the right way, which I think we’ve done over the last couple of weeks. It’s a hard one today, we had a great opportunity ahead of us but it’s been a tough afternoon and hopefully in the next World Cup we can go one step further.”