QUEENSLAND Cup champions the SP PNG Hunters returned home to a hero’s welcome with hundreds of fans and well-wishers gathered to see captain Ase Boas and his history-making team.
“This cup is for you, the people of Papua New Guinea, after four years we are now the champions,” Boas said of his side’s 12-10 win over the Sunshine Coast Falcons in front of 11,260 fans at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Sunday.
“People thought that it would take more than four years for us to win the competition.
“We did this through the support of the people of Papua New Guinea.”
In a short welcome ceremony organised by National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop and the sponsors of the team, the Hunters players and coaching staff were welcomed home by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Deputy PM Charles Abel along with other senior ministers and members of parliament.
Inspirational Hunters skipper Ase Boas thanked the club’s supporters and sponsors for their belief, passion and commitment to the team over the past four years.
“Thank you to the supporters who turned up not only today, but at every home match. And for watching us on TV. Your support has meant a lot to us this season and we really appreciate it. Every time we ran onto the field we feel that we were carrying the eight million people of PNG with us.”
Coach Michael Marum echoed his captain’s sentiments thanking the people of PNG for their support throughout the challenging times, with the highs and lows faced by the team.
“Thank you to the people of PNG for your support over the past four years. Without you we would not have come this far.
“This win is for the whole country,” Marum said.
Governor Powes Parkop spoke of the importance and significance of the Hunters grand final win as a turning point for the country, not only in sporting terms but in the self-belief of the people,” Parkop said.
“Yesterday (Sunday) was a glorious day, a defining moment for rugby league, for the country and the people.
“This has shown the people of PNG that we can be as good as anyone else in the world in rugby league and in anything we set our minds to,” Parkop said.
“The Hunters snatching victory from the jaws of defeat is an example for the people that they can overcome any challenge they face.
“When Willie Minoga scored the match-winning try and we saw the tears of joy streaming down his face, it also made the people of PNG shed tears of joy as well.”
The Hunters met with fans and gave out balls and signed autographs, posed for pictures before taking the Intrust Super Cup premiership trophy on a motorcade around Port Moresby.
The Hunters will play the Penrith Panthers in the interstate championship fixture on Sunday.
The Panthers beat the Wyong Roos 20-12 in the NSW Cup grand final at Leichhart Oval, Sydney on Sunday night.
The game will be the curtain-raiser to the NRL grand final between the Melbourne Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys.
Source : The National