Kiwi clash a highlight
Bradford Bulls Chief Executive Robbie Hunter-Paul is urging Rugby League fans to get to Headingley Carnegie on Friday night to see the World Champions New Zealand take on Papua New Guinea.
Hunter-Paul, who played 33 times for New Zealand between 1997 and 2006, believes the clash could be one of the highlights of the pool stages.
Looking ahead to the game, he said, “The Kiwis versus Papua New Guinea should be an absolute ‘stormer’ of a game. My native New Zealanders come armed with many objectives to this tournament but the most important is to hold onto that trophy.
“The Kiwis have a star studded team with some really amazing talent on show. The half back pairing of NRL finalist Keiron Foran and the man expected to take the Super Star mantle from Benji Marshall, Auckland Warriors Shaun Johnson is coming together with devastating effect. The giant Kiwi forward pack is setting brilliant platforms for the strike weapons they have on the edges especially wingmen Vatuvei and Tuivasa-Shek. Head coach Stephen Kearney knows the importance of treating every game with respect as he knows he’ll need to create some momentum rolling into the quarter finals.
“In Papua New Guinea Rugby League is far more than a sport, it is very much part of the cultural and spiritual fabric that makes up the whole country. The passion that every PNG player takes into a game makes you appreciate as a supporter that you have been witness to something special. Huddersfield Giants star Jason Chan has played strong for the Kumuls and his fancy footwork and strength will need to be watched. Also another Super League star in Paul Aiton can cause the Kiwis real trouble around the middle of the park so New Zealand will need to be on guard at the ruck or the number 9 has the potential to rip[ them apart,” added Hunter-Paul.
The Bulls Chief Executive says Rugby League fans across the region are in for a treat on Friday night, especially with the chance to see the famous haka on their own doorstep. He added, “For all supporters that go along to the match I know you will be in for a real treat, and look out for New Zealand’s brand new haka ‘Te iwi Kiwi’ which pays homage to all ancestors that have gone before whether they be NZ Maori, European or Polynesian but then also makes a strong ‘metaphorical’ statement by explaining that this is ‘our house’ and those that approach be very ‘weary’. Let Battle commence.”