The National, Tuesday 18th September, 2012
ISRAEL Eliab arrived on the national rugby league scene as a greater part of the Gurias’ ‘academy’ in 2011.
Set to don the number seven jersey and make his mark beside lynchpin Dion Aiye, the East New Briton is not one to let the moment takeover.
“He is still learning the game,” Vipers’ coach Shane Morris said earlier in the season.
Eliab had just moved over to the city from Kokopo for school after a grand final dream run with the Gurias in the PNGNRL competition the previous season , and Morris knew what he had on his hands.
“He is a good, young talent, a good prospect,” Morris said then.
“He listens and he applies, a rare player who has a good head on him. Player for the future,” Morris had said.
A part of coach Michael Marum’s Guria rebuild, Eliab slowly became an integral part of the Kokopo side’s dream run to the 2011 final, and an exciting prospect for Kumul coach Adrian Lam eventually on the international calendar in the same year.
He did not do enough to make the Prime Ministers XIII by last September, but eventually raised eyebrows in the Digicel Cup grand final in October to make his debut against the touring Fijians.
“I have a lot of respect for Israel, he showed a lot of potential making the team during the Fiji tour last year, and the little things he does on and off the field for the team,” Lam said when asked about his decision to go with the 83kg Eliab ahead of a specialist halfback for the PM’s XIII match.
“He is an exciting player, and he certainly is someone we look to be part of the team moving forward.”
The confidence that Lam has in his 21-year-old playmaker ahead of Sunday’s game is backed by the calibre of the player outside of Eliab in Aiye.
“The way we play, they will be playing similar roles so it doesn’t really matter.”
It is a journey that started with the Brothers club in Port Moresby, then on to Kokopo with the Gurias, and finally with the potential to go on in his country’s colours.