Pride all business for PNG trip
It shapes as the greatest test of the Northern Pride to date in 2014 and coach Jason Demetriou insists his side won't be distracted by the exotic location of playing in Papua New Guinea until after they get the result they are after.
Heading into Round 4 of the Intrust Super Cup the Pride and PNG Hunters are two of just four undefeated teams with Norths Devils and South Logan also enjoying unblemished records to start the 2014 season.
The Pride were the first team to get a close-up look at the Hunters when they were defeated 26-18 in a trial at Cairns in February and Demetriou is determined to keep his players focused despite the novelty of an international trip for a game of footy.
"Obviously it's a different experience for the players in terms of going international instead of domestic flight but we're going to embrace the cultural experience but we're going there to do a job and that's our focus," Demetriou told NRL.com.
"We don't fly out until late Sunday afternoon and we play at 2 o'clock Saturday so by the time we leave this morning until after the game it's all about the game and then after that we'll worry about what the players want to do.
"It's a good time to go and good experience for the boys but it's a better experience if you get the result."
Having been given a sneak peek at the squad the Hunters had assembled before their first Intrust Super Cup competition game against Redcliffe, Demetriou is not surprised to see them occupying such a lofty position on the competition table.
This will be the Hunters' third game in a row at their home base in Kokopo and Demetriou believes if they can cope with a heavy travel schedule later in the season, they will be a dangerous proposition come finals time.
"They're a dangerous attacking footy side. If you sit back on them and let them play their broken-field runners are as good as any in the competition and they're showing that," said Demetriou, who guided the Pride to the minor premiership in 2013.
"They're scoring a lot of points and they're defending probably better than we expected. It's a big challenge for us going over there because we're not only going to have to match them in the physical side of things but we're going to have to match their speed as well.
"The travel is probably going to get to them at the back-end f the year but if they can stay in the top five with the passion that they play with and the support that they're getting, they'll be dangerous if they get into the playoffs."
In other Round 4 games defending premiers Mackay will be looking to post their first win when they host Wynnum Manly, Burleigh will be without hooker Matt Keating for their clash with in-form Ipswich, Souths Logan face a Tweed Heads bolstered by the inclusion of dumped Titan Maurice Blair, Redcliffe face a tough assignment to break their duck when they host Easts and Norths should have little trouble accounting for Sunshine Coast at Bishop Park.
For a full preview of all six Round 4 Intrust Super Cup games click here.