Jets prop Rod Griffin and utility Richard Pandia both hail from PNG.
Jets prop Rod Griffin and utility Richard Pandia both hail from PNG. David Nielsen

Jets hunting prime scalps

THE match will have particular significance for two Ipswich players when the Jets take on PNG Hunters this afternoon.

Jets prop Rod Griffin and utility Richard Pandia both hail from PNG.

It has been six years since Griffin last represented his country of birth, though it is hard to figure out why he has not been selected since.

Griffin has been amongst the standout props in the Queensland Cup for the past two seasons.

And with the majority of the Hunters squad also in the PNG national squad, a big effort against them would surely prove Griffin deserves more opportunities for the Kumuls.

However that will not be his motivation when he runs onto the North Ipswich Reserve this afternoon.

The PNG Hunters are coming to Ipswich to take on the Jets. Photo: Contributed
The PNG Hunters are coming to Ipswich to take on the Jets. Photo: Contributed Contributed

 

"I don't really think about that," Griffin said.

"At the moment I'm just focussing on playing good footy for the Jets."

If he does that, his chance may yet come again, particularly given it is on Griffin's turf "up through the middle," that the winner of today's match is likely to be determined.

"It will be a clash of the forwards," Griffin said.

While Griffin and his fellow starting forwards will bear the initial brunt of the Hunters' onslaught, of equal importance will be those who come off the bench.

They have to keep things tight while Griffin and co have a much needed breather.

In recent weeks that job has been performed by Griffin's fellow PNG countryman Richard Pandia.

Pandia made his top grade debut on the wing when the Jets took on the Hunters in PNG earlier this season.

But injury to Jets lock Keiron Lander has seen Pandia fill the hole left in the middle, despite giving away plenty of kilos to most rival forwards.

"He goes very good for us," Griffin said. "He comes in and takes the pressure off us with fresh legs, even though he's one of the smallest guys."

Pandia, unlike Griffin, very much has future Kumuls on his mind.

While Griffin has represented his country, it remains an as yet unfulfilled childhood dream for Pandia.

"I've got to do a lot of taking and get the boys' tempo up by sprinting up in defence," Pandia said of his role.

"I wouldn't mind playing for PNG (Kumuls, not Hunters).

"When I was a kid I used to watch their games and say 'one day I'll be there'.

"It was a big dream."

While the Jets had a Queensland Cup bye last week, Pandia proved how committed he is by putting his hand up to play for the club's reserves in the Brisbane Rugby League.

Ipswich Jets: 1 Carlin Anderson, 2 Marmin Barba, 3 Chris Walker, 4 Nemani Valekapa, 5 Brandon McGrady, 6 Josh Cleeland, 7 Dane Phillips (c), 8 Josh Seage, 9 Landon Hayes, 10. Rod Griffin, 11 Joseph Ofahengaue, 12 Kurt Capewell, 13 Richard Pandia, 14 Matt Parcell, 15 Kurtis Lingwoodock, 16 Billy McConnachie, 17 Liam Capewell.

GAME DAY

North Ipswich Reserve today

  • Queensland Cup: Ipswich Jets v PNG Hunters, 3pm
  • FOGS Colts: Ipswich Jets v Wynnum Manly, 1pm
  • BRL: Ipswich Jets v Gaters at Brendale, 3.30pm