MICHAEL Mark may be by admission the shortest player in the Kumuls, although Benjamin John is giving him a good run for that title, but the Hunslett Hawks winger is nothing but a ball of optimism.
Standing somewhere between 165cm and 176cm – depending on who you ask – Mark acknowledges that his height has always been somewhat of a drawback when contesting for spots in representative teams.
But looks can be deceptive, as coaches and selectors find out when the SinaSina lad laces on the boots he seems to grow a foot taller and plays way above his weight.
Since his making his SP Cup debut in 2006 for the Pagini Warriors as 19th man in the side, Mark has created some records of his own that belie his size.
He was top try scorer in the SP Cup that year after only playing a handful of club games for Ziks Brothers in Kundiawa.
He has scored 23 tries in only 17 appearances for Hunslett in the UK tiered competition.
The 24-year-old obviously loves a challenge and the chance to prove people wrong.
“I know the high ball is a weapon teams might use against me but I have the confidence to handle whatever comes my way,” Mark said.
“I play against taller players and I’m used to it.”
He has a simple motto which he takes into every game irrespective of the level.
“I usually defend on the left side and my aim in every match is not to let my opposite score, no matter what he cannot score,” Mark said.
This was none more evident than in 2008 when he made his representative debut for PNG in the Prime Minister’s XIII against Australia.
“I was marking Jarryd Hayne and he didn’t score in that game, but I did,” Mark chuckled.
“We drew 24-24 and I was named man-of-the match.”
Another record for the dimunitive but in no way small Mark.
The determined Mark promised to turn in a crowd-pleasing performance on Oct 24 when PNG play Australia and he probably will regardless of the size of the Kangaroo he is asked to mark.