Buoyed by his international debut with Tonga, Sea Eagles outside back Tony Satini believes it is only a matter of time before Papua New Guinea stamps its mark on the National Rugby League competition.
Satini arrived back in Sydney last night nursing several bumps and bruises and even grazes to his knees following Sunday’s 32-18 loss to the PNG Kumuls.
With the pitch at Lae in need of some serious attention, Satini says he is still feeling the full effects of the subpar field.
“The body was sore the following day and still is quite sore today. The field was pretty bad so I have a few cuts on my knees,” he said.
The 21-year-old received his first international call up after an impressive maiden season with the Sea Eagles, in which he made his NRL debut against Parramatta in round three.
Satini holds his Tongan heritage very close to his heart and ranks his recent selection amongst his greatest achievements.
“It was an unbelievable experience. I fitted in with all the boys and seeing as though I’m Tongan I’m pretty proud of my heritage,” Satini said. “Just to chat and laugh away with the other boys was pretty special.
“Saying goodbye to my family was pretty hard but I knew that this was an opportunity to take to represent my country, so I took it with two hands and went for it. I’m very proud.”
As the only country where rugby league is glorified as the national sport, PNG continue to build towards an NRL berth.
2014 marked an exciting new chapter in the Intrust Super Cup after the PNG Hunters were injected into the competition for the first time.
PNG’s love for the game is unquestionable, and Satini believes the physical nature in which they play with is beyond anything he has experienced before.
“They are still building towards becoming a good side. I believe that one day they’ll be in the NRL and be just a tough as the top teams,” he said.
“I found it a little bit more physical than back here. The PNG Kumuls were very tough, very physical in defence as well as attack
“Their pace and physicality is unbelievable. They are so strong and quick, it’s definitely exciting to watch.”