Rugby League World Cup: Doncaster star in contention to feature for PNG on home soil

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The Eco-Power Stadium will host three games in the forthcoming Rugby League World Cup which could see Doncaster RLFC half-back Watson Boas turning out for Papua New Guinea in their Group D against Wales on November 8.

One of the stars of PNG’s historic win over the touring Great Britain side back in 2019, Boas must be in the frame if he continues to perform like he has been doing since his return from a long-term knee injury in mid-season.

The one thing that could count against him is that he is playing in the third tier of the British game.

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The fact that he also failed to hold down a regular place with Championship big-hitters Featherstone Rovers, who originally brought him over to the UK, could also count against him.

Watson BoasWatson Boas
Watson Boas

However, he was up against some quality opposition at Post Office Road at the time prior to being allowed to move to the Dons on loan.

The move later became permanent and the Dons did a good bit of business when signing him on a three-year deal last season.

Whether he stays that long could depend on what division the club are in next season because bigger clubs are likely to come in for him if they don’t go up and generally neither chief executive Carl Hall or head coach Richard Horne have stood in the way of a player wanting to improving his prospects.

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Some people may have thought the Dons were taking a gamble on a player who was facing a knee reconstruction operation but he has more than proved his worth since returning to action in mid-season and he has shown that he can both make and score tries.

Admittedly, the opposition he has faced over the last couple of months is nowhere near the standard he will face in the World Cup should he be selected.

But I’m confident that he has what it takes to raise his game.

And, like his fellow countrymen playing the 13-a-side code, which is the national sport in PNG, he is as tough as they come.

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Boas is one of a number of PNG internationals currently plying their trade in the UK and the Kummels, who find themselves in the same group as fancied Tonga, should make the knock-out stages given the quality of their squad which is also packed with stars from Australia’s NRL – the top league in the sport.

*Like everyone who followed boxing at the time, I had a soft spot for British heavyweight Frank Bruno.

So, I was looking forward to interviewing him when the chance came up to meet him during a promotional tour of the area during his reign as world heavyweight champion.

I was less enthusiastic when I learned that I’d get just five minutes alone with him and the news editor still insisted that I get enough ‘copy’ (words) to fill a two-page spread.

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I was by no means sure I’d be able to do that but my argument fell on deaf ears and I arrived at the venue in good time armed with a load of questions which I was going to hit him with in quick succession.

As often happens when a personality is appearing at various venues on the same night, Frank found himself running late and the first thing his PR man said to me on his arrival was: ‘Sorry, Steve, but you’ve only got two minutes.”

After completing his official commitments at the venue Frank eventually sat down next to me on a sofa and I wasted no time firing my first question at him.

Hopes that I might get half-a-dozen or so questions in were quickly dashed as Frank, who was known for his sense of humour at the time, followed up his answer with his familiar chuckle which seemed to go on for ever as the time raced by and I managed just a handful of questions.

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Frank came across as being very personable, and it wasn’t his fault that our time was so limited.

But, for the rest of his career every time I heard that famous chuckle it brought back some stressful memories of trying to make the interview copy, and more background filler than I had wanted to use, fill the space allocated.

I just managed it after burning the midnight oil trying to turn up some lesser known, and, hopefully interesting facts, and getting up very early the next morning in order to make sure I made the deadline after which I felt as though I had done ten rounds with big Frank.

Frank is just one of several boxers to have fought for the world heavyweight crown over the years who I have interviewed on a face-to-face basis including Joe Bugner, American Ernie Shavers, reputed to have the hardest punch during his era, and Sir Henry Cooper – all of whom fought Muhammad Ali for the world title.

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Shavers was very easy to talk to and seem both pleased and surprised that I knew so much about him during our ten-minute chat.

He came across as a very humble and modest man. We got on well.

The same could be said of Cooper, who was the guest of The Star at a boxing function in the town.

He was more than happy to do an interview before the event at the Dome got under way and we had another chat during the dinner.

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Despite being constantly interrupted during the meal by people wanting photographs and autographs, Henry readily obliged and there was never any complaint or adverse comment about his food getting cold after they had gone back to their seat.

A champion in the ring and a champion out of it!