Parker to retire


JESSIE Joe Parker will play the last home game of his 17-year rugby league career when Whitehaven host Halifax in round 21 of the Betfred Championship in England on Sunday.
There are two rounds left before the top-six playoffs of the second-tier competition with seventh-placed Whitehaven still a chance of sneaking into the finals.
Former Papua New Guinea Kumul Parker told The National yesterday that rugby league had changed his life from a village kid to where he was now playing and living in the United Kingdom (UK).
“I took up rugby league in Goroka in 2004,” said the 40-year-old, who is from Southern Highlands, Eastern Highlands and Gulf.
“I was playing for Kafuku Spiders in the Gahuku Offseason Rugby League competition.
“The player who motivated me to continue my rugby league career in the UK was Stanley Gene.
“Gene used to live at Seigu village in Goroka and we lived around that area.
“I used to see Gene come home from England during the offseason.
“I wanted to be like him and play professional rugby league in the UK.
“I am thrilled that I’ve actually achieved that.
“Playing semi-professional rugby league in PNG, and enjoying another 10 years of the sport in the UK, I have gained respect from a lot of people not only in PNG but here as well.
“Rugby league has made me a better person.
“I’m content with what I’ve achieved, retiring at this stage of my life.”
The Kumul No.212 made his PNG inter-city debut with Brian Bell Bulldogs in 2005.
In his debut year, Parker was selected into the inaugural PNG Prime Minister’s 13 squad where he played alongside Kumuls legend Michael Marum in their 0-34 loss to Australia at the then Lloyd Robson Oval.
Parker made his test debut in the Kumuls’ 10-50 loss to Wales when PNG toured Europe in 2007.
He went on to play 13 tests for PNG which included the 2008 and 2013 World Cups, 2009 Pacific Cup and 2010 Four Nations.
“I’ve had great memories playing for my country,” Parker said.
“But one of my favourite moments was in the 2007 Prime Minister’s 13 game in Port Moresby where we drew with Australia for the first time in history.
“I scored the crucial try that levelled the scores at 24-24.”
Meanwhile, the dad-of-five encouraged young players to be disciplined if they wanted to pursue rugby league overseas.
“Commitment and respect are also important,” Parker said.
“These are the things that put you in a better position to achieve great things not just in rugby league but life in general.
“I’m forever grateful to my parents, they have been supporting me throughout my career.
“Also a big thanks to Jamuga Stone, Chris Enara, Dr James Naipao, John Wagambie and his wife Jacqueline.”