Sport

Medicated Jets ward off malaria ahead of PNG trip

YUM: Ipswich Jets CEO Wayne Wendt and players Rob Worsley and Josh Seage take malaria tablets before their trip to PNG.
YUM: Ipswich Jets CEO Wayne Wendt and players Rob Worsley and Josh Seage take malaria tablets before their trip to PNG. Rob Williams

SAY AHHH.

Yep, it is medication time for the Ipswich Jets boys.

But they are as prepared as any team can be to make the trip to Papua New Guinea to take on the PNG Hunters in the Intrust Super Cup on Saturday.

They are taking their malaria tablets at regular intervals and they've had their typhoid and hepatitis A shots.

Players have been warned in writing about the dangers of HIV and told to take the necessary precautions.

Six cans of high strength Bushman's mosquito repellent are packed.

These are just the usual measures travellers take to travel to PNG, but it is fair to say it is a rugby league road trip like no other. Malaria is rife in PNG with health facilities reporting 1.5 to 1.8 million cases annually. The country also has one of the highest rates of typhoid fever in the globe.

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Jets CEO Wayne Wendt said he took medical advice from club doctor Roy Saunders and nothing has been left to chance.

"What we have come up with is a standard one-off typhoid and hepatitis A shot," Wendt said.

"That had to be taken four weeks before we leave to take effect, which means we had to plan a long time ago to have those injections done.

"Because we didn't know what our 18-man squad was going to be, we had to have 30 boys immunised and six support staff at $160 a shot.

"We were advised to take one anti-malaria tablet a day for 12 days.

"Today we started taking our tablets with food or milky drinks.

"The team manager texts the players at the same time every day to say, 'Guys, take your tablets'.

"The Hunters are funding most of it, otherwise we wouldn't be able to afford it."

Jets star Josh Seage said he was glad the club was leaving nothing to chance and was happy to take his tablets

"We heard some of the Wynnum boys didn't take their tablets and got pretty sick, so everyone has stuck to it pretty well," Seage said.

"It will be a different experience over there, but it should be a good trip."

To the credit of the Hunters they have provided all clubs with financial assistance to make the journey and Wendt said they had been "a pleasure to work with".

"They cover the cost of the airlines, the accommodation, food and copious amounts of water for the trip which is a significant amount of money," he said.

The players are staying in beach bungalows at Rabaul where Wendt said there was "black, sandy volcanic ash on all the beaches".

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The team bus leaves from the Jets Leagues Club at 5.45am on Friday morning, then the squad will fly to Port Moresby.

Then there is a two-hour stopover before a flight to Rabaul that arrives at 5pm.

The match kicks off in Kokopo at 2.30pm on Saturday and the team flies home on Sunday night.

Wendt went to the PNG consulate to pick up all the passports yesterday as the players need visas.

That was a logistical challenge as several players did not have passports and they had to be rushed through.

The players have also been given suggestions on mobile phone use.

"We have advised them to leave their phones off because there have been some horror stories where some players from other clubs have used them and come back with enormous bills," Wendt said.

TRIP PREPARATIONS

  • All 18 players and six support staff have been given typhoid and hepatitis A shots.
  • Each Jet must take one malaria tablet a day for 12 days, starting yesterday
  • All players have been provided with written advice on the dangers of HIV and the need to take precautions.
  • The Jets will stay overnight on Friday at Rabaul, a spectacular harbour town where a 1994 volcano destroyed 80 % of the buildings.
  • All the Jets needed visas for the trip. CEO Wayne Wendt fast-tracked passports for several players and collected them all from the PNG consulate yesterday.
  •  The squad will leave early Friday morning before sunrise and returns late on Sunday afternoon.

Topics:  intrust super cup, ipswich jets, papua new guinea, papua new guinea hunters




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