By HUXLEY LOVAI
KUMUL centre Nene Macdonald is raring to wear the national colours once again as he and teammates prepare for their rugby World Cup matches in Port Moresby.
The 23-year-old missed this year’s Pacific test against the Cook Islands through injury.
The PNG Hunters-dominated Kumuls won that match 32-22.
Macdonald said watching the side win was great but also made him want to be part of that success, especially after his performance against the Fiji Bati last year where the 110kg centre scored the match-winning try in their 24-22 victory — their first on the road since 2000.
“I injured my knee that’s been playing up all year. It was disappointing to miss out on this year’s Pacific test but I was watching and following the boys play, and like all of the fans I was excited for them after the win,” Macdonald said.
“Every time I wear the jersey, I put my body on the line, and play to the best of my ability because we all know that the people of PNG love their rugby league, and I do it for them and my family.”
Indeed, Macdonald, who has enjoyed a productive year with the Dragons in the NRL has been nursing an injured right knee for a good part of the year, reflected on his club’s run towards the end of the 2017 season.
“I’m just trying to look after it during the week, going easy and not too hard. Rest up and recover so come World Cup time it should be good,” he said.
“As for the Dragons, at the start of the season we were one of the best performing teams in the NRL over the first six rounds.
“We lost a couple of key players and it hurt our momentum. We didn’t finish the year the way we wanted to, and fell short by one game. It was frustrating, but we had a good run this season.”
Macdonald urged young rugby league players and fans to be inspired by the exploits of the SP Hunters following their premiership title win in the Intrust Super Cup.
He urged them to stay committed and disciplined if they wanted to play at the highest level.
“I know a lot of players that came from PNG who are very talented. They grow up with all the attributes to play rugby league.
“It’s all about the hard work first. You can have all the talent but without the hard work it means nothing if you want to step up to the next level.
“Justin Olam had his first taste of the NRL system, and he spoke about how tough it was and the lessons he learnt this year. He can’t wait to get back next year and step it up again.
“You have great players like Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, and Johnathan Thurston. They’re talented players but hard work and commitment got them to the level they’re at.”
By HUXLEY LOVAI