Four PNG U18s in QLD country Kookaburras squad
Thursday, March 01 2007 @ 05:29 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Sean Finlayson
In more exciting news for "Rules" in Papua New Guinea, four PNG players have been included in a 27 man country Queensland talent squad - Ali Pinda, Stanis Susave, John Vincent and John James. A record ten PNG players were invited to the U18 country Kookaburras selection trials in Rockhampton, with those missing out on the final selection including Bergman Talingapua, Lewis Reu, Willie Aisi, Phenam Sioni, Moses Tibong and Raphael Gotuno.
The number of Papua New Guinea produced Under 18s is up from the three which represented country Queensland in 2006, and reflects the number of talented players graduating from Under 16 ranks, however it is even more impressive when put in the context of growing competition for spots against emerging talent from Queensland. These factors mean that this squad arguably includes some better AFL prospects for Papua New Guinea to date.
Among them, perhaps the most promising is Stanis Susave, PNG's first ever Queensland state rep as a Queensland U16 Scorpion looks like continuing along the pathway to the next level. He has improved since injuring himself in the 2006 state championships, becoming one of only 3 players to graduate from the Under 16 country squad and play in the Under 18 country squad. The half forward has been outstanding for the Labrador Tigers (a team from a suburb of the Gold Coast) in the AFLQ State League, the highest level of club competition in the state. In late 2006, Susave and Donald Berry attended the AFL International Rookie Talent Camp in Canberra at the Australian Institute of Sport.
A promising performance from Susave for the Country Kookaburras would arguably give him the best chance amongst the PNG reps for inclusion in the U18 Queensland Scorpions state squad to compete at the state championships. The Scorpions last year produced a record number of AFL draftees. The PNG juniors even made the front page of PNG's Post Courier news (as pictured above). Ali Pinda kicked 2 goals and was named 3rd best on ground in the game against the Suncoast Power in which the Kookaburras won 10.15 (75) to 9.3 (57). John Vincent didn't make the final cut for the team in the game against Cairns U21.
Signs are also good for the development of the game in regional Queensland areas, with an increase in the number of talented players coming from Townsville, Towoomba and Capricornia regions selected in the country side.
The Country Kookaburras competed against the Suncoast Power as a curtain raiser to the NAB Cup clash at Cazaly's Stadium in Cairns. They also played a Cairns U21 side. Unfortunately torrential downpours in Cairns greatly reduced the standard of play in the NAB Cup match and most likely had a similar effect on the U18s matches.
In other AFL Queensland news, following up a previous WFN story on PNG neighbour, the Torres Strait Islands, young indigenous Thursday Islander Chris Hunt is reported to have been offered a two year schooling with St Peters Lutheran College in Brisbane as part of the Pacific Toyota Kickstart scholarship. Chris Hunt is developing into a potential key position player having grown tall enough to play at full forward and intends to nominate for the AFL Draft. The AFL's Davey brothers (Melbourne's Aaron and Essendon's new recruit Alwyn) are of Torres Strait island descent, but were born and bred in Darwin. It is a possibility that Chris Hunt could become the first locally developed product from the land council islands between Australia and Papua New Guinea to reach AFL level which if it happened would be a massive boost for the region as a whole.