After the marathon 100-minute minor semi final between the Waghi Tumbes and the Hela Wigmen, a new rugby league hero emerged in the form of the Tumbes explosive fullback Jesse Mathew.
Safe under high bombs, effective ball returns attributes, quick in the middle and out wide the classy fullback held the fort as the Tumbes last man in Défense and the first in attack. Tumbes captain Joe Frank and super fine wine Supa Kookote were superb and came up with game breaking plays but the class and grace of Jesse Mathew left everyone in awe.
Mix Parentage of Morobe and East New Britain Jesse grew up in Hagen and tasted representative AFL footy early in his teens by representing Western Highlands. After impressing national selectors, he represented PNG in the AFL U/16 Oceania Cup in Sydney in 2016. Highly skilled Jesse even made the Oceania team and represented the region.
Upon returning from Sydney, he switched code to rugby League. Jesse played school boys competition in Mt Hagen and got selected to represent highlands region in the U/16 Regional School Boys tournament in Lae. He was spotted by selectors and named to represent PNG against NSW Under 16 selected side. The U-16 PNG team included current PNG Hunters player Judah Rimbu.
Moving up the grades Jesse made name for himself. He became a household name in the Mt Hagen Rugby League competition playing for his local club Mambla Sharks in the “A” grade division.
In 2019 while attending Hagen Park Day Secondary, Jesse was selected by Mt Hagen Eagles train but didn’t play a single match
Disappointments aside, he played Ipatas Cup in Jiwaka Province in off-season where the Goroka Lahanis and Waghi Tumbe showed interest in him. Since Jiwaka is close to his home and family in Mt Hagen, Jesse signed up with them. He made his Digicel Cup debut with Tumbes on the wing and eventually found his way to fullback and cemented the spot.
On the big stage last weekend Jesse Mathew swept like a storm through the pro Wigmen NFS in 100th minute marathon minor – semi final clash where he was awarded man of the match.
Jesse was put to the test. He found himself the last man standing and under countless Wigmen high bombs and he diffused them all with class.
His line break in extra time gave David Joseph the perfect field position to kick the final field goal granting Tumbes a 1 Pont win over the Hela Wigmen and place for the Grand Final Qualifier.
Watch out for Jessy Mathews in the Waghi Tumbes fullback jumper against the Mendi Muruks this Sunday at the National Football Stadium he composure and safe hands at the back may just be the difference.