2018 Young Achievers PNG Tour

Updated: October 11, 2018
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Under-16’s talent from Western NSW travelled to Papua New Guinea last week for the 2018 Young Achievers Tour to play three matches and Coach Col Wright believes the tour is a fantastic experience for young Rugby League players.

The team travelled around PNG for one week and played games against Sogeri High School, Hiri West and the PNG Under-16’s National team at Oil Search National Football Stadium, Port Moresby, on the same day as the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII v PNG Kumuls.

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Wright chooses candidates from the Far West Academy of Sport and Western Rams to participate in the tour and affirmed the players that went were amazed by the Papua New Guinean culture.

“No one really understands what it’s like there unless you go,” Wright said.

“We choose boys that can handle it because it’s not a holiday, it’s a life-changing experience and it’s a cultural experience.

“We had people dancing in front of us in their traditional dress and that happens everywhere we go now and it’s amazing.

“To go over and see their love of football is an experience like no other and that is why we have been taking boys over there for 11 years, so they can have the opportunity to do that and understand what it is like to go over there and play.”

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For the last four years, the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII have presented the players with their jerseys before their game.

Wright says this is an exciting addition to the tour and something this year’s team cherished, with the likes of Daly Cherry-Evans, Tyson Frizell and Jake Trbojevic in the Australian team.

“The jersey presentation is an added bonus, even in Australia that doesn’t happen every day and the boys absolutely loved it.”

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The Young Achievers were defeated 14-12 by the PNG Under-16’s; Wright was pleased it was a close, hard-fought game and says the PNG side were a quality opposition.

“It was a great match, we don’t want to go over there and put a huge score line on them.

“Our players are pretty talented, I think there’s seven now playing in the NRL that have been on our tour.”

After the conclusion of the tour, Wright says he received enthusiastic responses from both parents and players and hopes it is something he can continue well into the future.

“This week I got an email from a Dubbo parent that spent the last four days with us and he said the kids haven’t stopped talking about it since they’ve been back.

“I’ve had nothing but positive feedback from parents and kids saying it’s the most exciting thing they’ve ever done, so we’d like to continue the tour for as long as we can.

“Our Manager Matt Thompson came on board in 2015 and without him I wouldn’t have been able to continue doing this.”

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