THE SP PNG Hunters have been likened to a “tidal wave” with the impact the team has made, contributing significantly to the profile of the game in the country.
The tsunami-like impact has even been felt in Queensland and other parts of Australia as it has drawn together Papua New Guineans, people with links to the country and rugby league followers.
The Hunters have also given PNG a shot in arm in the tourism stakes – promoting the country in a positive manner unlike any other initiative before.
Minister for Sports Justin Tkatchenko made these comments today when announcing the Government’s K1.5 million commitment from the National Gaming Control Board to the Hunters.
“Look at the positive spin,” Minister Tkatchenko said.
“The SP Hunters is on everyone’s lips, it’s the unofficial national team,” he said.
Also present the brief cheque presentation ceremony were PNG Rugby Football League chairman Sandis Tsaka and members of his board, NGCB chairman Leslie Hoffman and NGCB acting CEO Imeda Agon, some of the Hunters players and officials who didn’t travel to Friday’s game, PNGRFL senior officers Arnold Krewanty and Toksy Nema and the members of the media.
The Hunters are currently on the Gold Coast in Australia preparing for Friday’s Anzac Day match against Burleigh Bears at Pizzey Park.
The Hunters have won six games, lost two and drawn one after nine (9) games to be fourth on 11 points – a performance that has captured the imagination of Papua New Guineans and others everywhere.
Rugby League commentators rated the Hunters would “miss the (top) five” when it comes to the finals but the way the team has been travelling has thrown caution to the wind that those predictions could be way off the mark.
“It’s taken rugby league (in PNG) to another level,” Tkatchenko said. “It’s a positive story that has to keep going.”
Tkatchenko and Tsaka said there are still plenty of games remaining but the kind of support given by the Government, sponsors and the supporters, was very encouraging and would give the team a huge boost in their Intrust Super Cup campaign.
“We thank everyone for the success of the SP Hunters – the Government, the sponsors and the supporters fans in PNG and in Australia,” he said.
He thanked Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Minister Tkatchenko and the rest of the Government whose decision to get behind the revival of PNGRFL – which saw the creation of the Hunters – as a step in the right direction for the game.