Ipswich’s Shane still has a soft spot for PNG team

THEY will be his side’s opponents on Sunday, but PNG rugby league remains dear to the heart of Ipswich Jets co-coach Shane Walker. In 2010, prior to the Four Nations tournament, Shane and brother Ben joined the PNG national squad as assistant coaches when the team based itself in Ipswich in the lead up. On Sunday the Jets will aim to end the season of the PNG Hunters in the Intrust Super Cup preliminary final at Wynnum, with the winner through to the grand final on September 27 against the Townsville Blackhawks. There was some coaching uncertainty surrounding the national PNG side back in 2010 and the Walker brothers were called on by Jets sponsor Mark McMonagle, who also sponsors PNG rugby league with Sun Engineering, to help out. Shane Walker said it was an experience he would never forget. “It was the best three weeks of being involved in a footy team, apart from being involved with the Jets now,” Walker said. CLICK HERE FOR MORE IPSWICH NEWS “It just opened your eyes up to everything that is good about footy. “They weren’t on a lot of money and some of the guys struggled to afford boots to wear. “But they loved their footy, loved their teammates and loved their country. “They play with a real instinct. “The PNG Hunters do play a very structured brand of footy but when required that instinct can come out.” The Jets have been encouraged to play with instinct too, and the clash on Sunday promises to be one of the most entertaining of the year. “It will be a great game of footy,” Walker said.”Obviously there are two sides desperate to make a grand final and the atmosphere will be unbelievable. “They had considered moving the game because they were concerned there may not be enough room at Wynnum.” Sunday’s clash is being spoken about in pubs, cafes and workplaces around Ipswich. “The Intrust Super Cup has never been spoken about more,” Walker said. “I am out on a work site now and it is all people want to talk about.” The Queensland Rugby League had the vision to expand the game to PNG in a major boost to the code, with thousands of Hunters fans expected to descend on Wynnum. Ipswich Queensland TimesTOPICS: IPSWICH JETS, RUGBY LEAGUE, SHANE WALKER, SPORT