Sport: PNG regain the AFL International Cup
Papua New Guinea regain the AFL International Cup after beating Ireland in the final, in a repeat of the 2011 decider.
Papua New Guinea won the AFL International Cup in dramatic fashion at the weekend, edging Ireland 45-42 in a dramatic final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to regain the title they last won in 2008.
Head coach David Lake told Vinnie Wylie the win was all the more satisfying, having lost to the same opponent in the last final three years ago.
DAVID LAKE: The last time in 2011, when we lost it to Ireland, we had a good group, there was a lot of experienced players but I'd only been involved with them for a short period of time whereas this time when I looked into it we were very young and these kids are through our development programmes, and this is five or six years work. The 17/18 year olds from last time are 20/21 and we asked the 20/21/22s to be - well now 25 - to be the veterans and stand up and lead the young fellas and to see them do that and I looked around the room and we'd been involved over that period with 90 to 95 percent of these boys so you really knew what you had, as people.
VINNIE WYLIE: You did have a couple of hiccups in terms of injuries therein that game which perhaps made it a bit tricky and you had to come from behind as well. With all that history the teams have between them, and obviously what was on the line, did that make it all the more satisfying?
DL: Johnny James and Amua Pirika are the two guys you speak of. Amua kicked six and nine and three [goals] and then Johnny James came into the tournament he'd come off a hamstring in the competition he plays in Queensland, and we always knew we had to manage the boys through, and then Amua's knee. It was a credit to them to even get out on the ground and they knew they needed to because they were the leaders of the group. In a lot of ways they found a way to be out there but we also couldn't leave them out there all of the time, and you start to look around and say we're going to need 2/3/4/5 percent from a lot of other fellas here to balance off. That was what was incredible and we worked and worked and worked: Gideon Simon, Theo Gavuri, John Ikupu, Laurie Logo - we found it from other places and that's what was exciting is that the next generation I suppose took their position but yeah we were concerned that we certainly weren't able to put them away as early as we would have liked to have.
VW: Are you still keen to remain involved with the team after this success?
DL: It's one of those things, my mum always says to me, "I don't care if you don't go to church" She said, "David, I think you run your own church" and I must say, the PNG people for me, they give me so much in terms of respect and opportunity and I sometimes think that they're teaching me about life as opposed to me teaching them about footy. It's a great combination, it's something that makes me feel good inside when I can help them and as long as they'll continue to have me I'll continue to want to do because I think it's one of the most fulfilling experiences I've had in footy and to be there on the [MC]G last night was very very special.
VW: After losing it in such tough circumstances three years ago, to come back and get that victory I guess three years from now you guys will be the hunted?
DL: It's funny, I was saying the other day that I actually reckon South Africa are going to be the ones that will cause everyone a bit of trouble. Yes we will be the hunted but everyone get ready to play South Africa. Wow, have they improved and have they learnt so much about the modern game. Their body type, their athleticism, their skill level - they're amazing - and as I say, it will be South Africa vs who next time. Write that one in your little book and let's see how far I go - I'm saying South Africa v PNG.
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