PORT MORESBY children and rugby league fans alike were treated to a special appearance from some Australian legends of the game in at a footy clinic held at Murray Barracks in October.
Australian rugby league greats Gorden Tallis, Andrew Johns and David Mead delighted crowds when they led the Pacific Assurance Group (PAG) Footy Legends Clinic, one of the most talked about events in the country over recent weeks.
One hundred local children were chosen to take part in the clinic, with applications having been opened up to all Port Moresby school students and junior rugby league players under 18.
Australian Team of Century halfback Andrew Johns said the event provided a great opportunity to get a look at some quality PNG talent.
“The earlier we can lay our eyes on young talent, the better,” Mr Johns said
“We can identify those players with a point of difference and steer them in the right direction, in terms of training, application and attitude.”
Queensland Origin legend Gorden Tallis said he was impressed by the talent on show.
“These local kids pick things up so quickly. I taught skills today that Aussie kids would take months to master, and these kids were catching on by the end of one session,” he said.
“They are born to play ruby league.”
The participants were awarded with a commemorative training singlet and then had the opportunity to get photos with their footy heroes.
The clinic was held prior to a relaunch of the PAG brand at the Crowne Plaza where Tallis, Johns and Mead mixed with local corporate heavyweights, telling stories from their decorated careers.
PAG founder Johnson Tia, a former semi-professional player in PNG who won nine premierships, said he was a passionate supporter of growing the game in PNG at junior level.
“We wanted be as democratic as possible and give most youngsters in Port Moresby a chance to attend the clinic,” he said.
“Junior development is something PAG values very highly, as we support moves to one day have our own team from PNG in the NRL.
“So why not keep that interest from our young players at maximum level by giving them this sort of opportunity?” he said.