The National, Friday 7th September, 2012
IT is traditionally the longest week in any premiership race, no different for the Mendi Muruks and the Agmark Gurias going into this Sunday’s 2012 Digicel Cup rugby league grand final.
While Lloyd Robson Oval head groundsmen John Mauwe has been hard at work all week, bringing the playing surface to its best possible state for the final, 40 players have been hard at work too on the training paddocks to turn up on Sunday and wreck it.
Gurias coach Michael Marum last night however toned his side’s preparations down.
“The boys are a bit more relaxed this time around,” Marum said from Kokopo after their final training session.
“They were younger, It was something new and there was alot of nerves last year. We have two more days, and there is no pressure.”
Marum said he had had to remind his side about last season’s grand final loss, though he admitted it was the bigger reason behind the season.
“There was a lot of tears and hurt when we returned home last year, but they know they are a better side this time around.”
While the Muruks have opted again to keep their preparations under wraps, the team did quietly touch down in Port Moresby yesterday.
Coach Roderick Puname managed to slip his side around town without too much noise.
An insight into Puname’s zone however may just be his decision to stick with the team that got them into the final in Felix Tangue, Wessa Tenza, Wesley Benny, Mathew Puke, Michael Mark, Kewa Kili, Joshua Molsi, Werr Mark, Charlie Wabo, Roy Kela, Jackson Undie, Robert Nandie and Joseph Omae while Norbert Kembo, Jack Kuman, Paulus Mondo and Ronnie Tenza take the bench.
Wabo last Sunday signalled that the Muruks would return to do it for Sponsor Thomas Higgins, and that pact stands to truly be, a Southern Highlanders loyalty.
It’s a story worth writing for the 2012 Muruks, for their next generation of players in the years to come, having come through adversity and the hardships without the support they needed, and only each other.
But it is also a success story that starts in Kokopo, of boys becoming men.
Both sides lost to Goroka Lahanis in the previous two seasons, Muruks in 2010, and Gurias 2011, and bring a bulk of that experience to this Sundays match.
It’s a premiership title final almost made in heaven, especially with the competitions very best in key positions face-off.
Muruks boom five-eighth Kili against the incumbent Dion Aiye, old warhorse Wabo against probable player of the year Wartovo Puara Jr, Electric fullbacks Felix Tangue and Gurias Albert Patak, and workhorses Omae and Gurias Pidi Togap.
Set to go right to the end, Sunday will bring the curtain down on the season, but who better than the Muruks and the Gurias to help bring them down.