By HUXLEY LOVAI
IRELAND coach Mark Aston and captain Liam Finn thanked the people of Port Moresby for the warm welcome they received in their short visit to PNG.
The Irish players took the community engagements in their stride and were pleasantly surprised by the warm and enthusiastic response from the public and school children.
The Irish were not deterred by the negative press they had heard before coming to the country, as the entire squad made themselves available for the fan zones meets and the school visits.
Captain and halfback Liam Finn said that visiting and playing in PNG was a great experience.
“It’s a fantastic experience to play in PNG, I recommend it to anybody who plays rugby league around the world if you get the chance to come to PNG, do so,” Finn said.
“The people have been absolutely magnificent for us, with the gratitude and the hospitality. It’s been unbelievable and a great experience.”
Coach Aston, who has a close affinity with PNG being the coach of division one club Sheffield Eagles, who have PNG players Menzie Yere, Mark Mexico and Garry Lo, said their trip was a memorable one.
“I have to say that personally I have enjoyed myself in PNG this week. I got Menzie Yare who joined the Sheffield Eagles after the 2008 World Cup, plus Garry Lo and Mark Mexico. So I’ve got a fondness for PNG,” Aston said.
“The kids here just dream about being the next Gary Lo and they are imbedded in rugby league, and that’s what’s great about our game allowing communities to get together.”
Following the bruising encounter against the Kumuls last Sunday, Finn said the Wolfhounds knew that the encounter with PNG would be a tough one. With his boys giving as good as they got.
“The Kumuls were exactly what we expected, tough and physical. We knew what we were in for and were disappointed to not get the result,” Finn said.
“I don’t think the Kumuls expected what they got from us, and they would feel relieved at the end to get away with the win.”
By HUXLEY LOVAI