Redcliffe Dolphins coach Troy Lindsay expects rugby league’s new boys, the PNG Hunters, to come out all guns blazing in their Round 1 Intrust Super Cup clash at Dolphin Oval on Sunday.
The Hunters' first foray into the premier Queensland competition and the grand final rematch between Mackay Cutters and Easts Tigers headline an exciting opening round of action.
Lindsay, a former prop and Redcliffe club legend who played 314 first grade games for the Dolphins in a career spanning almost two decades, finds himself in the top job at his beloved club for the first time.
Having never shied away from a challenge as a player, Lindsay expects nothing less than a high-octane performance from the Hunters when they make their ISC debut.
In a country where rugby league is almost a religion let alone a national pastime, the PNG Hunters will be expected to produce a powerful, passionate and competitive performance against one of the Intrust Super Cup’s most decorated clubs.
“They’ll be coming down to win there’s no doubt about that,” Lindsay said.
“They’ll be excited and I’m guessing in the first 10 to 20 minutes it’ll be all or nothing from them.
“We’re going to have to withstand it and come over the top of them towards the end [of the match].”
The coaching arena is not foreign to Lindsay, having guided Redcliffe’s under-20s side to a premiership in 2012.
Held in high regard on the peninsula, the new Dolphins’ boss doesn’t feel any extra pressure on his broad shoulders as the red and white aim to improve on last year’s disappointing seventh-place finish.
“At the end of the day the players are the ones who have to do the job,” he said.
“There’s no more pressure on me than there was when I was coaching the under-20s.”
Since the inception of Queensland’s premier rugby league competition in 1996, Redcliffe have traditionally been a dominant force, winning five premierships from 10 attempts.
Although they were runners-up to local rivals Wynnum Manly in 2012, you’ll have to climb aboard the DeLorean and time travel back to 2006 to witness the last occasion when Redcliffe hoisted the cup.
If the Dolphins have any hope of improving on last season’s effort, they’ll need to start by rectifying their poor record at home.
Dolphin Oval has typically been a fortress for Redcliffe, but last year they only managed to win five of their 11 home games finishing two points outside the top five.
“Once you make that top five it’s a different competition, so our goal is to make the top five,” Lindsay said.
Redcliffe will be looking to dictate play against PNG, having named a strong side featuring a number of fringe Broncos players including fullback Liam Georgetown, centre Aaron Whitchurch and front-rower David Hala.
Lindsay is also expecting big contributions from halfback Adrian Davis, who represented the First Nation Goannas against Newcastle recently, and centre Marty Hatfield, who is co-captain alongside prop Jon Green.
Both sides recorded one win and one loss from their 2014 pre-season games, with PNG impressing many pundits with their opening 26-18 trial win over last year’s minor premiers, Northern Pride.
The Hunters have named four players who featured for the Kumuls in the 2013 World Cup. Five-eighth Israel Eliab will skipper the side which also features halfback Roger Laka, prop Joe Bruno and lock Sebastian Pandia.
Win or lose, Sunday’s match is a major step forward for rugby league in Papua New Guinea and there’s no doubt fans of the greatest game of all wish to see the Hunters remain a competitive force throughout the 2014 season.
For full previews of all Round 1 Intrust Super Cup games click here.