Reality can wait for Hunters hero
If there is a ticker tape parade to welcome the PNG Hunters back to Port Moresby after Sunday's Intrust Super Championship in Sydney, there is just as much a chance their captain Ase Boas will be in charge of crowd control as he is of being at the front of the team bus.
Named the Intrust Super Cup's Player of the Year in 2017, kicks by Boas led to both of the Hunters' two grand final tries with his grubber 90 seconds from full-time grounded by Willie Minoga inches inside the dead-ball line to level the scores.
Then, with some eight million PNG fans watching back home and a Cup Grand Final record 11,260 fans sitting in the stands Boas stepped up to slot the conversion from the right of the posts before accepting the Duncan Hall Medal as player of the grand final.
Every player who pulls on a Hunters jersey makes major sacrifices in being away from their families for months at a time and have to put their careers away from football on hold as they stay in camp with the Hunters for the duration of the season.
When the Hunters made their entry into the Intrust Super Cup in 2014 Boas was working as a police officer and captaining the Rabaul Gurias in the local Digicel Cup.
He saw that players he had competed against 12 months prior were now competing against the best teams in Queensland and thought he too could contribute.
Because the Hunters are classified as a national team Boas was given leave by the police department when he was offered an opportunity to join the Hunters in 2015 and revealed the arrangement he has been working under for the past three years.
"During the season I don't work at all. The agreement was when I finish the competition and then the next day I need to go back to work," Boas told NRL.com after extending his season by a further week with victory over the Falcons last Sunday.
"I write a letter to the department asking them if I'm allowed to play so they give me a rep leave because it's a PNG team. So they allow me to compete in the competition and after the season I'm allowed to go back and work.
"I did it for the past three years. I've got another week off to go to Sydney!"
A member of the PNG Kumuls team that defeated Campbelltown in Sydney earlier this year, Boas is one of few Hunters players to have visited Sydney before and is an important figure within the playing group for coach Michael Marum.
"He's been a great leader. He does a lot of work with the players by himself," Marum said.
"Everyone responds to him. He's trained as a policeman so that may be where he gets his respect but on the field he's a great leader.
"It's just making our coaching job easier for him to go and talk to the boys. Sometimes they are a bit hard to handle but Ase is always there to talk to us regarding any issues in there."
After their historic 12-10 win over the Sunshine Coast Falcons last Sunday to claim their first Intrust Super Cup title, Hunters coach Michael Marum promised that his players would not only represent their country with pride on NRL Grand Final Day but also Queensland's premier rugby league competition.
As has been shown with the protracted negotiations to facilitate a Fijian team in the New South Wales Rugby League's Intrust Super Premiership, the QRL deserves great credit for their willingness and perseverance in exploring the possibility of entering a team permanently from PNG.
Their reward was not only a record crowd for a Cup grand final last Sunday at Suncorp Stadium or the injection of a team that has brought an entirely new dimension to the competition but the knowledge that they have revitalised something that the PNG people hold most dear.
Not only are the Hunters the pride of the nation this week but the national team, the Kumuls, will host three World Cup matches in Port Moresby later next month and be strong favourites to win all three.
The largest recorded crowd to witness a Kumuls Test match was the 44,324 who saw PNG take on England in Auckland during the 2010 Four Nations series but there will be close to double that watching live at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
It will elevate the status of the Hunters players in their homeland to even greater heights and further strengthen a development pathway that has the potential to dominate the Intrust Super Cup for many years to come.