Pandia pair hunting former countrymen
TOMORROW will be a special day for Ipswich Jets brothers Sebastien and Richard Pandia as they prepare to host the PNG Hunters at North Ipswich Reserve.
Following in the footsteps of fellow countryman and former Ipswich premiership winner Rod Griffin, the two brothers from Papua New Guinea have been standouts in the Intrust Super Cup this year.
Between the two, the Pandia brothers have made 200 tackles, run more than 2000 metres from 260 hit-ups, and scored two tries each in the green and white.
Richard Pandia has played all but two games for the Jets, while older brother Sebastien has only missed one game this year.
With the Hunters firmly in the top four of the Intrust Super Cup ladder, Richard Pandia said he couldn’t wait to aim up against his former Kumuls teammates.
“I feel excited playing against my countrymen,” Pandia said.
“I played with them last year and they are pretty tough. I think we are fitter and as long as we can get around them, we should be right.”
Despite being on different ends of the ladder board, the Jets have shown their ability to find the tryline with 250 points to the Hunters 243.
Pandia said the Jets would need to use their speed and agility against a PNG back bursting with strength up front.
“Just as long as we get our jobs done we should go well,” he said.
“They have good forwards but we should be able to tire them out with our footwork.
“There are a couple of things we’ve been working on at training. Hopefully we can get a good start in the first half and see what happens from there.”
The game is set to kick off from 1.45pm tomorrow and will be broadcast live by Channel 9 on the day.
With plenty of family and friends back home, Pandia said he wanted to put on a good performance for those tuning in to watch the game.
“I’ll probably try to get a few more hit-ups,” he said.
“I didn’t score any tries when we played the Hunters last year so hopefully I can get one this time.
“There should be a lot of people watching back home with both my brother and I playing for the Jets. Plus there are a few PNG fans over here as well.”
After joining Ipswich in 2014, the Jets right-side winger was joined by former PNG Hunters captain, Sebastian who plays in the second row for the Jets.
With a dynamic runner in Richard, and a hardworking forward in Sebastien, the Jets have enjoyed a double dose of Pandia power which is sure to be a highlight against the Hunters defence.
“It is pretty cool playing together,” the younger Pandia said.
“Last year I thought we were going to be playing against each other but then he came down here and it’s been good to have him.
“He does his job and I do mine. It feels like we are back playing backyard football together.”
As a regular feature of the club’s premiership run last year, the 22-year-old has been asked to take on a more senior role by Ipswich co-coaches Ben and Shane Walker as new players have come into the Jets squad.
“I feel good with all the new boys coming in,” he said.
“Shane and Ben have asked us to step up a bit and I’ve been impressed with those new guys.
“Jesse Roberts has been hitting his form lately after coming up from the BRL. I’ve been really impressed with him.”
Since making the move overseas the duo have found a welcome home in Ipswich as they both study University degrees.
But tomorrow they will get a dose of home life with the Ipswich Jets throwing their annual Harmony Day with a number of pop-up stalls featuring traditional food, artwork and music from Papua New Guinea.
“It’s a special day for us,” he said.
“Haven’t had some Mumu in a while so I’ll definitely grab something before or after the game.”
Debutante to take off
FORMER Toowoomba Valleys centre, Hugh Sedger will make his Intrust Super Cup against the PNG Hunters tomorrow.
Sedger joined Wynnum-Manly last season to play in the FOGS Cup Colts Challenge before transferring to Ipswich as a member of the Jets BRL squad.
He was thrilled to hear he would be joining fellow former Valleys players Josh Robinson and Ben White.
“I have got to grab anything that comes my way,” Sedger said.
“My whole career, I have struggled with rep footy. The move to the Jets has really suited me.
“It makes it a bit easier coming into a side with a few familiar faces.”