The National, Monday July 1st, 2013
THE PNG Rugby League Foundation’s national elite Under-16 and U18 teams returned home after a successful International tour.
The eight-day tour saw the PNG teams play four matches in six days against club and schoolboy teams in Brisbane.
The U16s won two matches out of their four and the U18 won three of their four tour matches.
Apart from the matches the players also furthered their rugby league education with visits to watch the Broncos and the Queensland Origin teams train, tour of the Broncos training facility, talks by development staff and attending Wednesday nights State of Origin match at Suncorp Stadium.
PNG Rugby League Foundation CEO Brad Tassell said it was a tough initiation for the players but the tour was to give the players a crash course in rugby league and to test themselves against some of the best talent in Queensland and the country.
Tassell said he was particularly proud of the U16s performances, considering it was the first year for the majority of the squad in the programm.
“Most of the U16 players are turning 15 this year and there are only two players left from last years squad, so it was a real learning experience and an eye opener for the players,” Tassell said.
“While our programme is achieving great results you have to remember we are playing against teams who have played and trained together basically every day since 11 or 12 years-old.”
Tassell said the performances of the U18 were extraordinary and is excited about the future of the players;
“Our U18s were dominant throughout the tour. Most have been in the programme from three years now and you can see the difference it makes.
“The Redcliffe game was a blow out but it was the fourth game in six days and the U18’s played some very big and physical teams so they were probably exhausted by the last match.”
Tassell said NRL scouts were impressed by the performances particularly of the U18s.
He added that this could open up the door to more clubs and rugby league schools looking at PNG for talent instead of other Pacific nations and the opportunity for PNG Rugby League youth is now “realistic and attainable.”
2013 Tour results: U16 14 Wavell High 24, U16 22 Ipswich High Won 6, U16 10 PNG Queensland U17 24, U16 22 Redcliffe 14, U18 62 St Brendans 12, U18 26 Ipswich High 6, U18 36 Queensland PNG U19 14, U18 42 Recliffe 0.