Sport: PNG Orchids upbeat despite Broncos defeat

12:32 pm on 3 September 2018

The Papua New Guinea women's rugby league team are talking positives despite being outclassed 48-14 by the Brisbane Broncos in a historic trial match on Sunday.

Playing their first match since last year's World Cup, the Orchids managed three tries from Naomi Kaupa, Ray Rambi and Elsie Albert at Suncorp Stadium, against a Brisbane team that will play their first match in the NRL Women's Premiership this weekend.

Captain Jennie-Sue Hoepper was representing her mother's country for the first time and said she felt a lot of "pride and passion" wearing the PNG jersey.

"We had a lot of new young girls come in so experiencing playing against girls at that level and I think the speed of the game as well but I'm really proud of the girls and we all got something out of that game," she said.

"I'm very very happy that we were able to put three tries on them," Hoepper said.

"Our attack...we had direction and we were going with it. It just came down to winning the ruck and that part of our game we're really going to work on for the next game coming up.

"The girls really put up a fight and in Papua New Guinea the level of experience isn't like it is here in Australia and New Zealand and that but we put up a really good fight and we're really proud of ourselves and the effort we put in today."

PNG Orchids captain Jennie-Sue Hoepper.

PNG Orchids captain Jennie-Sue Hoepper. Photo: PNG Orchids

Brisbane's Amelia Kuk, who played for PNG at last year's World Cup, also got on the score-sheet, scoring the first and last tries of the match.

Orchids head coach David Westley was effusive in his praise for the PNG team and said, while there was a lot of room for improvement, he could not fault the effort displayed throughout the 80 minutes.

"We just had an influx of people from the Broncos to Oil Search to PNG Rugby League - the bosses - come through just to say to the girls how proud they were to just watch their effort (they were) putting in," he reflected after the match.

"And there was a couple of times the girls just talked to each other as well and just were in tears. They really put in for each other."

The Orchids next match is on home soil against world champions Australia next month.

David Westley said it's an exciting time for the women's game, with the NRL Women's Premiership launching this weekend and player numbers in PNG having tripled to 3000 in the past 12 months.

He said the Orchids players were "very fast learners" and he wanted the new-look squad to stay together and develop towards the 2021 World Cup.

"When I got the job and sat down with the selectors I kind of decided that I wanted to pick the team on defence, the players had to be good people first and I just wanted to pick younger players...with a couple of leadership (players to offer some experience)," he said.

"There's going to be an ongoing partnership between the Broncos and the Oil Search PNG Orchids. It's very exciting times for the women - there's a pathway there now - so hopefully a year or two down the track we will have maybe a player or two there, playing for them so that's the goal."

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