The Broader Game: Jeffries on PNG

Newly appointed PNG Orchids coach Ben Jeffries believes nothing will challenge him more than the opportunity to coach the women's national side at the rescheduled 2021 World Cup.

Fresh off a victory with the women's Indigenous All Stars side in February, Jeffries has shifted his focus to searching for 24 players who will take the Orchids into their second world tournament.

"I've only ever been to Papua New Guinea once and it was a wild experience," Jeffries says.

"You fly in and get guarded at the hotel, they line up down the streets, they just live and breathe rugby league. I can only imagine what this opportunity will bring."

From the chance to coach mothers and teenagers who have never flown on a plane to help players adapt to culture shock and the weather, Jeffries is preparing for everything ahead of choosing his Orchids squad.

"That's the challenge, for me to get good staff around me that I can trust and get in the right direction for these girls," Jeffries said.

"I don't have a PNG background but my role is to educate and get everyone to another level.

"I had 10 years in England playing and when the opportunity came to put my name forward.

"Taking a group away for three weeks, and possibly training as a team before that will offer so many different challenges."

Jeffries plans to turn to local talent to make up the squad and is hoping to have some come to Australia and play in the NSW and Queensland state competitions if possible.

"There's a lot already in Queensland and then we've got a few already over in Australia so if we can have a good mix it will be valuable," Jeffries said.

"There's so much untapped potential in PNG. It's about trying to give them an opportunity and compete at the international level but also helping them off the field.

"Elsie Albert is a good example and Therese Aiton has been in Australia for a long time.

"To put it in perspective, most of the PNG girls we pick will be star-struck by playing and meeting someone like Elsie so it's about channelling all that emotion and putting it out on the field. 

"I'd love to get us to the semi-finals stage."


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Alicia Newton, NRLW Chief Reporter,