Champs : SP Hunters given a hero’s welcome
BY GORETHY KENNETH
Leaders in PNG joined hands with the 8 million people of PNG in congratulating the winning SP Hunters on arrival with the Intrust Super Cup in Port Moresby yesterday.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had arrived from the United States in the morning, in time to welcome home the winning PNG Hunters at Jackson International Airport after their historic win.
Government Ministers, Members of Parliament, sponsors and supporters joined Mr O’Neill to meet the Hunters, who arrived about 1.30pm, saying the 12-10 victory against Sunshine Coast Falcons in the Grand Final of the Queensland Intrust Super Cup last Sunday had united this land of a 1000 tribes.
Hunters coach Michael Marum was tongue-tied as the team arrived in the afternoon to a colourful welcome. He could only repeat his “thank you” to the government and sponsors for their support, and for being there right up to victory at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Captain Ase Boas, who made the win possible with his last-minute grubber that led to the try and conversion, was left speechless as he and his team mates savoured every moment of the airport welcome.
He forced back tears and kept repeating that the victory was for the country’s eight million people.
Mr O’Neill said this win had become the pride of PNG and that he was very happy that the SP Hunters have ensured leaders and people’s trust and confidence and that this was the beginning of much better things to come.
“This has become the pride of our country and I am very happy that they have ensured our trust and confidence that we have put in them by all the sponsors, all the supporters. The government and investments that we’ve made in rugby league it is starting to show the results. The government is the biggest winner,” he said.
“I would have liked to be there, but PNG also needs us to do work.
“I was still on the plane when they played and won. Of course it was a proud moment for me and every one of us in the country.
“This is the beginning of much better things to come. This is a good confidence build up for us. We are proud of them, doing things that are not possible many years ago.
“We will continue to support the team until we enter NRL, until we win the World Cup one day, we will continue to do our part,” Mr O’Neill said.
There were no official announcements of a day off for celebrations or a parade through the streets of Port Moresby.
The Hunters will be preparing to travel again, probably tomorrow, to Sydney to meet Penrith, the winner of the New South Wales Cup Grand Final on Sunday.