By ISAAC LIRI
RUGBY league superstar Greg Inglis says the team he leads against the PNG PM’s 13 on Saturday in Port Moresby is strong because they are treating the match seriously.
“We have come up with a very strong side, so were not taking this game lightly,” he said.
He will lead the Australian PM’s 13, featuring some top players from Australia’s National Rugby League competition, against the local side at the National Football Stadium.
“I’m honoured to lead the side,” he said on arrival at the Jackson International Airport yesterday.
He described the huge reception yesterday by scores of local rugby league fans at the airport as a “rock star welcome”.
It is his first trip to PNG to play in the annual end-of-the-season clash, with the aim to promote the development of rugby league in PNG. It began in 2005.
“I think it is always good to come up here and take part,” Inglis said.
Inglis, 29, is aiming to make it into the Australian side for the Four Nations tournament next month in England.
He promised to be at his best on Saturday to impress Australian coach Mal Meninga.
Meninga echoed Inglis’s sentiments that they are taking Saturday’s clash seriously, although it is only a friendly contest.
“Obviously, we’re not aware of the PNG side yet but we’ll find out. We’ll work out something and of course we’ve come prepared,” he said.
He said naming a strong side would also benefit PNG players by providing an opportunity for them to experience playing against a team made up of some of the best NRL players.
Apart from the development of rugby league in PNG, the annual clash will also support the campaign to stop violence against women.
“It is always important to get these messages across to people and there is no better time to get the message across,” Meninga said.
PNG Rugby Football League chairman Sandis Tsaka yesterday welcomed Meninga and his team and wished them the best in their short stay in Port Moresby.
The match kicks off at 4.30pm and the gates open from noon.
NFS general manager Lee Pokarop confirmed that tickets for the 15,000-seat venue were sold out on Wednesday.
Pokarop said no tickets would be sold at the venue. The live and exclusive coverage of the game would begin from 1pm on TVWAN.
By ISAAC LIRI