The National, Wednesday March 5th, 2014
By JOHN PANGKATANA
FINANCE Minister and rugby league fan James Marape, pictured, described the Hunters’ 24-18 win over the Redcliffe Dolphins in the Intrust Super Cup on Sunday as one of the best polished performances by a Papua New Guinean side in a long while.
Marape, who witnessed the victory with Sports Vice-Minister Labi Amaiu at Dolphin Oval in Redcliffe, said PNG was turning the corner by being competitive away from home.
“This was one of the best polished performance that I have seen in a long while,” Marape said.
“Only two dropped balls for the entire match, says a lot for what coach Michael Marum and his staff are doing to get the players into top shape.”
Marape and Amaiu were over the moon with the opening tries from skipper Israel Eliab and a classic from centre Thompson Teteh.
Marape said that the South Pacific Brewery-sponsored Hunters had made a great start to the competition and needed to maintain the standard and improve as the season progressed.
“I can see that Michael (Marum) connects well with our local talent. This is something our past national teams may have struggled with,” Marape added.
Amaiu said the Hunters now had the means to prove their worth, and hoped they could back it up week in week out.
Meanwhile, former Kumul and Port Moresby Vipers forward James Naipao added his congratulations on the Hunters first up win.
Dr Naipao, in a text message on Monday congratulated for a well-deserved victyory.
He stated that this was a fantastic start, especially on winning an away game, which the 1995 and 1996 Port Moresby Vipers were unable to do when they participated in Queensland Cup.
“What a huge start and a great win for our self-belief and also a confidence booster for the team,” Naipao said.
He said more funding needed to reach the grassroots and the school boys level if the country was to have realistic shot at securing an NRL licence in 10 to 15 year timeframe.
Naipao endorsed former Kangaroos halfback Andrew Johns’ comments on the development of the game and that a successful NRL bid would not be achieved overnight.
He said at the same time rugby league associations should look at professional status by having their own club houses, which was a way of being financially self-sufficient.