By ISAAC LIRI
THE SP PNG Hunters are not just representing Papua New Guinea in Sydney on Sunday but Queensland as well, says coach Michael Marum.
With the team set to play NSW Cup champions Penrith Panthers, Marum said the Hunters were also carrying the pride of Queensland with them and it was something they were not taking lightly.
The Interstate championship will be the curtain-raiser of the NRL grand final between the Melbourne Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys and the Hunters coach spoke of the opportunity as exciting and honourable for his players who will for the first time play at the ANZ Stadium in front of an expected 80,000 fans.
“The players are all looking forward to travelling down to Sydney to play there for the first time,” Marum said
“In the Intrust Super Cup grand final we played in front of more than 11,000 people but now we are talking about a crowd of around 80,000 people at the ANZ Stadium because it’s a curtain-raiser for the NRL grand final.
“The good thing is that all the Queenslanders there will be supporting us. We want to go down there and compete well against the New South Wales champions because we are representing PNG and Queensland now,” Marum said.
Marum men’s understand that their opponents will include first grade NRL talent to boost their line-up and the key thing for them is to apply a similar defensive effort displayed during the Q-Cup grand final last Sunday.
“We know they will come with their best team and we will have our best. Queensland teams won that cup in 2014 and 2015 but missed out last year when the Illawarra Cutters beat the Burleigh Bears, so now the challenge is on us to win it back.
“It will be a bonus for us to win the interstate challenge.
“Our goal this year was to make the Intrust Super Cup finals but we’ve come this far and I believe we are capable of going down there and doing well.
“This is the big stage now so I think our players will have the opportunity to shine in order to be scouted by potential NRL clubs.
“I am sure some NRL clubs have already been looking at some of our boys but if they want to see them shine, this is probably another opportunity for them and our players as well,” Marum added.
On the injury front, Marum confirmed that halfback Watson Boas had been cleared to play this weekend after passing medical tests on Sunday.
“Watson is okay to play now, all we had to do was send the results of the cognitive test he did to the QRL so he’ll be fine to take the field on Sunday.
“The only concern is Wellington Albert with a knee injury so we might make one change later this week if we have too,” Marum said.
By ISAAC LIRI