ENGLAND Women’s late 20-16 defeat on Saturday means they come away from Papua New Guinea with a drawn series against the Orchids, but halfback Jodie Cunningham feels there are a number of positives to take from the trip.
Cunningham, who is one of the most experienced England players of all-time with 21 caps, played in Goroka and Port Moresby as part of the historic tour.
Cunningham said: “I don’t think any of us knew what to expect of Papua New Guinea before we came out, but it has far exceeded my expectations.
“The people of Papua New Guinea have just been so friendly wherever we have gone, whether that be in Goroka or Port Moresby, and have just made us feel so welcome.
“I’ve learnt a lot in terms of appreciating what you’ve got and taking advantage of every opportunity you get, because not everybody is as fortunate as we are.
“They’re happy and make the most of what they’ve got, and I think we need to do that more at home.
“The community visits to the hospital and the schools were definitely a highlight for us all as a squad. I think they’re something that every single member of the squad will remember as being really special to us all.
“The way the young kids saw and idolised us as Rugby League stars was unbelievable. We don’t get that back home – it was honestly like being a celebrity.
“Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces was so uplifting for us all and it really made it sink in how big a deal it was for us to be in Papua New Guinea.
“On the field, they were the biggest crowds I’ve ever played in front of and the atmosphere at both games was amazing. The Goroka Test was something that will be hard to ever replicate.
“I think the trip has been extremely beneficial for all of us, both on and off the field.
“The two Test matches have helped this relatively new and young squad get used to being away and on tour as well as realising the level we need to compete at in preparation for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.”
*See a match report of the second game of the PNG Trip in the current issue of League Express – OUT NOW