Papua New Guinea
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Simbiken happy with defence

Feel the might of the Sepik Pukpuk is the best way to describe the effort PNG international and Redcliffe Dolphins player Jeremiah Simbiken when he pull off a ‘hit by a freight train’ tackle on Cronulla Sharks and Australian Prime Minister’s XIII halfback Nicho Hynes during the Prime Minister’s XII match on Saturday.

Defensively, Simbiken was proud of the team’s effort and playing in front of a fully packed capacity crowd at the Santos National Football Stadium for the first time got him lost for words to describe every moment of the match.

“It’s really good…my first time and the crowd were unreal, no words (to describe) and I love it,” said Simbiken. I will share this experience with my family when going back to Australia, I will tell them that Josh Addo-Carr gave me his shirt, I gave bilums to him (Addo-Carr) and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow,” he added.

He said hopefully his game performance would give selectors a good heads up for representative footy especially with next month’s Pacific championship in which PNG Kumuls will be hosting Cook Islands and Fiji including the bowl grand final.

Simbiken and fellow teammates in the PNG Prime Minister’s XIII side had to work over time defensively to contain the Australian forward pack led by NRL stars like Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Jake Trbojevic, Emre Guler, Hudson Young, skipper Cameron Murray and Reuben Cotter.

“We were in the grind and coming into training a week ahead, all we talked about was grind hard, tackle hard and control our aggression.”

“We did count on some aggression we lost but I am happy how control we were, tackles were safe and good, just proud of the boys and it is my first one (playing on home soil) and I am so happy how we played.”

Simbiken also commended the coaching mentorship of newly appointed PNG Kumuls coach Justin Holbrook for being able to prepare the team despite a short training preparation leading into the match.

“Grateful that Justin (Holbrook) is coaching us, good footy knowledge and I’d give it all to him.”

Asked to comment on how tough it was matching up against the Australians, Simbiken also praised PNG Hunters halves utility and hooker Judah Rimbu for stepping up to the occasion.

“Little Judah (Rimbu) had to shut him down at certain stage put his body on the line against Tino…this shows that we may be small in size but we can carry them and put them down.

I am happy with the full-time score, not that big points differential and I am happy with how our middle pack control our momentum.”

Statistically, Rimbu was one of the top performers with 30 most tackles being made behind Cameron Murray (44).

The team’s defence was at 85 per cent and had to make 242 tackles less than the Australians (319), made less errors (12) but missed tackles (32).