A TOURING team from Papua New Guinea will be the main attraction at today’s Gold Coast-Tweed Rugby League Nines.
The annual nine-a-side tournament is the first taste of competitive senior rugby league on the local calendar and PNG’s Central Coast Marlins will be joined by 15 teams from across the Gold Coast-Tweed region.
The Marlins represent 80 villages from along the southern coastline of PNG. The most famous rugby league product of recent times from the area is Titans winger David Mead.
Mead, who holds the club’s try-scoring record and recently re-signed with the Titans for another three years, originated on PNG’s southern coast before going to school in Australia.
“He is a really good ambassador for the Coastal boys,” Marlins team manager Nou Asigau said.
“We’re hoping we can give them the next David Mead with the speed we have in our nines team.”
Asigau along with Marlins President Oala Frank and secretary/trainer Wayne Ila are the men in charge of the tour.
In 2013 the Marlins were supposed to make their first appearance on the Gold Coast, but the Nines was abandoned due to torrential downpours, so anticipation for this tour has been high for some time.
In recent times they have toured to Auckland and Cabramatta while in addition to this Gold Coast tour they will also visit New Zealand, South Africa and hopefully Canada in 2014.
“My focus is to establish a relationship between ourselves and the Gold Coast and help to develop the game in Southern PNG,” Asigau said.
“We want to give these Coastal players an incentive to come on tour, develop and maybe get scouted.
“If the QRL is kind enough to help as well we’d love guidance in administrative matters such as running the business, securing funding and helping growth in our area.”
Staying on the beach in Surfers Paradise for the week has given the team plenty of chances to experience the Gold Coast lifestyle, but while they have loved the chance to see the city they are here to play football and hope to be very competitive on Sunday.
Tou Akohu, Michael Oaniu and Toope Mitaharo will be the leaders having gained plenty of experience playing in PNG’s semi-professional Digicel Cup.
They have speed to burn with the likes of John Lele and Gadol Burau while big men Sebastian Harry, Iken Ila and Patrick Morea will provide the muscle up front.
Young playmakers John John Wak, Tau Chris and Pio Allen, who are all aged between 17 and 20, will be the men in charge of steering the ship.
“We know the Gold Coast has heaps of talented of players,” Asigau said.
“I don’t want to be overconfident but I believe we can do well. Hopefully we can get through to the semi-finals.”
The Gold Coast-Tweed Rugby League Nines takes place today (March 9) at Burleigh juniors and is hosted by the Currumbin Eagles.
There were 16 teams signed up to compete today including at least one team from all eight Bycroft Cup clubs, a handful of Powrgard Cup teams and the touring PNG side.
The first games kicked off at 10.50am with action continuing all day until the final at 5.15pm.
Kids get in free and adults are $5.