By BENJAMIN KOITAKA
RETIRED Brisbane Broncos star Sam Thaiday will be the special guest of the Eastern Highlands Super 8 Rugby League tournament today.
The former Queensland and Australian test forward arrived in Port Moresby yesterday and was welcomed by Mining Department first secretary Motsy David at Jackson Airport. He will travel today to Goroka where he will be the tournament’s guest of honour at its launch and kick off.
The nines tournament is sponsored by Kainantu MP and Mining Minister Johnson Tuke.
Well known Australian rugby league personalities regular visit the country to promote and support tournaments and programmes.
Names like Mal Meninga, Benji Marshall, Darren Lockyer, Matt Bowen, Petero Civoniceva, Lote Tuqiri and Justin Hodges have made themselves available to various groups.
The tournament includes the participations from the eight districts in the men’s (13s) and women’s (9s) with the extra invitational teams from other three districts of Chuave (Simbu), Markham (Morobe) and Usino-Bundi (Madang).
The 33-year-old, who has played international matches (Prime Ministers 13) in Port Moresby and Kokopo, said it would be his first time to the Highlands but he was keen to see another part of Papua New Guinea and support local rugby league.
“I’ve never being to Goroka so this would be a first for me so I’m looking forward to meeting the people and met the new fans as well,” Thaiday said.
“I’m so grateful for the invitation to come up here and meet the fans.
“I want to thank the organisers for bringing me up here.
“I’d love coming to PNG as we have a lot of NRL fans up here and of course I’m looking forward to seeing the local rugby league talent in action here,” Thaiday, who first played in PNG in 2007, said.
Thaiday, who was last in PNG last February for the Broncos pre-season match against the SP PNG Hunters, said his visit to Goroka would also be used to promote the message of young people to stay in school and learn as well as the importance of being healthy and being good members of their communities.
“I’ll be talking to the kids about education and being healthy and being good people within the community but also enjoying sports,” he said.
The one-club star said he was always supportive of initiatives to promote sports and its e benefits in rural communities having come from one himself in North Queensland. “A lot of things come through sports and we would like to take this message to the people.
“Rugby league in PNG is fantastic and we love coming up here because we’ve got huge fans here.”
By BENJAMIN KOITAKA