Captain's Diary: PNG
Defending Intrust Super Cup premiers the Mackay Cutters set off an historic trip to Papua New Guinea today. Here is (captain) TYSON MARTIN’S account of the team’s journey into rugby league heartland.
Friday, March 7:
Our journey started with an early flight from Mackay to Cairns. We then boarded a charter flight to Rabaul and that was when the significance of this whole exercise started to kick in.
The charter flight was great. We spent about two hours in the air and we were well looked after. It might have been a mission if we had to fly to Brisbane and then onto Port Moresby.
The reception we received from the Papua New Guineans was amazing. The bus trip from the airport to our beach resort was just as crazy. Seeing all the kids line the street is something I won’t forget. Rugby league is everything here. It’s just an awesome experience.
Personally, I was really pleased when PNG was granted entry into the Intrust Super Cup. The raw talent over here is incredible; and as we all know, they live and breathe rugby league.
I knew by looking at our boys and seeing the smiles on their faces that we were embarking on something very special.
They’re all excited. The other 11 teams in the Intrust Super Cup are going to be the same when they come over here.
After checking into our resort, we jumped back on the bus and made our way to Kalabond Oval for our final training run. I thought the ground was awesome.
They’ve got a great field here. Running out there it was actually pretty dry. I thought it would be a bit of a mud pit (after the heavy rain earlier in the day).
Game day is tomorrow and I expect a massive crowd. Everyone is obviously going to be supporting the Hunters.
If we don’t start a lot better than we did last week, we’re going to be in a lot of trouble. But we’ve trained great this week and everyone is keen.
We’re just going to embrace it and when the boys get out there, we’ll be ready to play.
Saturday, March 8:
This morning we went to the markets and got to meet a few of the locals. Some of the boys bought souvenirs and things, so it was nice and relaxing.
We got our strapping done and got changed into our playing gear at our beach resort. We were driven to the ground about half an hour before kick-off. As soon as we arrived we got stuck into our warm up on the playing field.
That whole experience was something different. But next year they’re saying they will have the dressing room facilities so it will be a little bit better, but you can’t complain because it was brilliant to be playing here.
The crowd was very vocal. They started getting loud towards the end when we were under the pump and so were the Hunters.
Across the park they’re just massive. They all run and tackle hard. In parts we had a little bit of joy, just through their inexperience. But it just wasn’t enough and the Hunters will only get better and be hard to stop come the back end of the year.
We’ll head back to our hotel now, do a media conference and then freshen up before boarding our charter to Cairns where we will go through customs. From then it’s another flight back to Mackay to complete our trip.
Even though we didn’t get the result we wanted, the past few days have been amazing. The people of Papua New Guinea are awesome and I can’t wait to come back and do it all again.