Their expansive, no-holds-barred style of play lit up the Intrust Super Cup in 2014 but the inclusion of the PNG Hunters into Queensland Rugby League’s premier competition is having its greatest influence back home.
It was feverishly feasted upon by thousands of footy fans at Queensland grounds and those watching on Channel Nine but gave the country’s national sport a previously unimagined pathway to the big time.
The Hunters will open their second Intrust Super Cup campaign against Souths Logan at Davies Park on Sunday.
In their inaugural season in 2014 the Hunters won 14 of their 24 games and missed out on a finals berth by a single competition point but the QRL’s head of competitions, Jamie O’Connor, says their impact has been felt greatest in PNG.
O’Connor was one of the key figures from the QRL in ensuring the inclusion of a team from PNG went from dream to reality and said the greatest satisfaction he has drawn ahead of their second season is how it is impacting youth.
O’Connor’s first foray into the possibility of a Hunters team came in May 2013 and said to return to Kokopo in March last year for the team’s first home game at Kalabond Oval was a moment of great satisfaction.
“The first emotion for me was that I was extremely proud,” O’Connor told NRL.com.
“I was extremely proud to know that we were making a huge difference to an entire country to be honest.
“They saw it as vital to their Kumuls programme and the development of their junior and schools programmnes.”
“It goes into social welfare as well and giving the people of PNG something to look forward to on a week-to-week basis from a rugby league perspective.” – NRL