Hello there to all our rugby league fans and families. Welcome to the 14th edition of Coach’s Corner in your favourite rugby league newspaper — The National.
I was extremely pleased with the effort and attitude our PNG LNG Kumuls displayed in last Saturday’s 24–6 loss to Toa Samoa in the opener of the Oceania Cup Pacific Test in Sydney.
The debutants rose to Test football pressures and demands after a slow start. Nerves may have played its part. We were in the contest throughout the game. They played well against a Samoan side that had its best players from the NRL competition. The average age is 22 years. It puts us in a good position when looking ahead to the next leg against Fiji on November 9 in New Zealand and the Great Britain Lions a week later at home. But the bigger picture is preparing ourselves for the World Cup in 2021 in England. And that’s only two years away.
I told them to keep working hard at their clubs and play consistently throughout the season. The Kumul jersey they wear, they wear with pride and passion. Xavier Coates has been named in the 18-man Brisbane Broncos squad to play Newcastle Knights this weekend. That’s good news for us and for the young man. Well done.
The sad outcome from the Test was the injury Kurt Baptiste sustained. Injuries are part and parcel of the game. But when it happens in these circumstances while playing for our beloved country is devastating to the team and in particular to the player. Kurt will undergo surgery on his knee and will be out for up to nearly 12 months. That’s the rest of this season and the first half of next year.
I have discussed Kurt’s situation with the PNGRFL chairman Sandis Tsaka and chief executive Reatau Rau to financially help our fellow countryman during this time. An announcement will be made soon to support Kurt.
Standby for that and please let’s give our full support to him. I have spoken to him and he appreciates the messages and overwhelming support from everyone throughout the country and overseas.
Our Oil Search PNG Orchids also played with pride and passion. They were all new and stood up to the pressures and demands at this level. The experience will do them good for the future. Coach Nigel Hukula is starting with a new-look team and his focus, like me, is getting the best PNG team to the 2021 World Cup.
The SP Hunters play Northern Pride in Round 15 of the Intrust Super Cup competition in Cairns this Sunday. This is the second game of the second round. In the first round, they beat us 24 nil at home. As I said previously, we have learned many lessons during the first round. We have worked hard on them. This was evident when we beat Tweed Heads Seagulls two weeks ago. We can only lift ourselves and do better in this second round.
This will be the Channel 9 game on Sunday at 1.10pm from Barlow Park. The PNG community, and there’s quite a big number, in Cairns are preparing to give our team every support. We look forward to seeing you all this Saturday at 3pm at the Captains Run at Brothers oval.
The Digicel Cup competition is also at the half way mark. The top four are close with only six points separating them while the other eight are clustered together. Good luck to the teams this weekend.
The Southern leg of the 2019 Coca Cola Regional Schools championships kicked off in Port Moresby yesterday. Good to see many parents and elder siblings come out to support them. There is a lot of talent on display. Unfortunately no schools from some parts of Central, Gulf, Western, Milne Bay and Oro are not participating. Whatever the reason is, let’s get what these obstacles re out of the way and give these boys and girls every opportunity to play the greatest game of all.
I received many ‘Best Wishes’ and “All the best’ messages through the Hunters forum while in camp in Sydney last week. Thank you all for your support. The Team really valued and wre grateful for your support.
Please keep sending your opinions and views or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. The players and staff read the newspaper and know what the people out in the rural areas think.
On behalf of the many rugby league officials and players in PNG and overseas, I extend our sincere condolences to the families, relatives and PNG Volleyball fraternity on the untimely death of an elite PNG sporting colleague, Vabukori Amateur Volleyball Association and PNG Amoa captain Ravu Mahuru.
He was in the same category and class of behaviour, humility, pride and passion when wearing the red, black and gold as our very own (late) Kato Ottio. They were teammates before Kato took up rugby league. You both will meet again in Paradise.
That’s it for this week. Until next Thursday, play safe, play hard and play by the rules in whatever sport you are participating in.
And be a good spectator and supporter from the sidelines.