Forget injury, passport issues: Jets chase PNG win
RUGBY LEAGUE: The Ipswich Jets were still finalising a team due to passport matters and injuries as they prepared to fly to PNG tomorrow morning.
Fullback Denzel Burns, winger Marmin Barba and last week's debutant Ray Baira were among the key players unlikely to leave Australia owing to passport issues.
They'll be joined at home by halfback Julian Christian who is injured along with other Jets regulars like Billy McConnachie (bicep strain) and Ben Shea (rib damage).
However, don't suggest to Jets co-coach Shane Walker that the Ipswich team's main hope was returning from Port Moresby unscathed after a horror run of recent injuries.
"We're going over to get the win,'' Walker said, having made the overseas trek since 2014.
If the Jets can achieve that, it will be their success after a number of seasons trying in PNG.
Christian will be replaced by ever-reliable back-up Jet Chris Ash, who made his state league 2015 debut in PNG.
"He's well accustomed to the PNG culture,'' Walker said.
Ash, who has been playing A-Grade for Brothers in recent weeks, will link with the Jets' form five-eight Josh Cleeland in Saturday's match.
While Baira is unable to make the trip, fellow debutant Shar Walden will.
"He did a great job. He defended brilliantly,'' Walker said of his newcomer's effort in the Norths game.
Walker expects forward Blake Lenehan to make his debut off the bench in PNG.
With Barba at home, Jayden Connors was likely to play fullback.
Jets PNG product Richard Pandia is heading home after being cleared following some concussion.
"He always plays well against his countrymen,'' Walker said of the popular Jets recruit.
Intrust Super Cup Rd 7: Saturday (3pm) - Ipswich Jets v PNG Hunters at National Football Stadium, Port Moresby.