And Mal Meninga thought he was popular.
Greg Inglis is expected to be treated “like a god” in Papua New Guinea for Saturday’s Prime Minister’s XIII clash.
PM’s XIII prop Aaron Woods admitted he was blown away how Meninga was worshipped by the league mad public the last time he visited PNG in 2014 for the annual clash.
As PM’s XIII and now Kangaroos coach, Meninga will again be greeted like a deity ahead of the annual clash against a PNG XIII at Port Moresby this weekend.
Meninga is an adored figure in PNG not only for his playing career but also for championing community causes in the country like healthy living and anti-domestic violence campaigns.
But Woods believes it will pale in comparison to the reception awaiting Inglis.
The popular Queensland strike weapon will not only visit the country for the first time but also hold the PM’s XIII captaincy reins.
“There are a few boys that haven’t played over there before – it’s a bit of a surprise that Inglis is one of them,” Woods said.
“He will be so popular and I’m sure they will treat him like a god.
“I went over there in 2012 and Ben Te’o had just played for Queensland.
“The whole population of PNG loved him because they are all Queensland supporters.
“I really enjoy going over there. It’s always a great experience.”
Sydney Roosters prop Dylan Napa – who will also feature in the PM’s XIII pack – tried to give Inglis an idea of what to expect after savouring his 2014 PNG trip.
“We went to a school visit and the kids were so happy to see the team,” he said.
“It was only a little thing but they like touching.
“They don’t want autographs or that, they just want to touch you and it’s a pretty humbling experience.
“It’s a pretty crazy crowd over there and they certainly love their football.
“It’s their national sport so you can only imagine how much they get into it.”
Meninga has picked a star studded PM’s XIII squad that features four Test incumbents.
The clash is being used as a genuine selection trial by Meninga before he finalises his 24-strong Kangaroos squad for the end of season Four Nations campaign in the UK.