A BOY everyone affectionately calls 'Ace' is expected to join the Gold Coast Suns academy after a stunning MCG debut on Saturday.
Lively forward Hewago Oea underlined his immense untapped potential in Papua New Guinea's thrilling AFL International Cup Grand Final victory over New Zealand.
Oea, who was born in Port Moresby and plays for Gordons Kokofas in the local league, won the medal as the best player in the division one decider played as a curtain-raiser to the Collingwood-Geelong game.
The best-on-ground award continues the rapid rise of the speedy half-forward, who turns 16 in November.
He played three games for QAFL club Broadbeach before the AFL International Cup – the first in the colts' team, then in the reserves before being promoted straight into the seniors.
In an interview with the AFL Record earlier this year, Oea said he discovered footy when he was 12, when the AFLPNG development team visited his school.
"I was attracted to the game because it is fast and skilful. My friends were playing and I wanted to play too. I like tackling and applying pressure, hunting the ball and getting lots of kicks," he said.
"Football is fun and always enjoyable. It has also provided an opportunity for me to come to Australia and learn."
Three-time Brisbane Lions premiership defender Darryl White, the Mosquitoes’ assistant coach during the International Cup, gave Oea a glowing reference after the stunning performance for fans arriving early at the MCG.
"I don't know whether they think much of him, but they will start talking about him after this and I reckon every club in the country will want him," White said.
White finally fulfilled a commitment to help out Papua New Guinea coach David Lake, who coached the indigenous team of the century full-back for six years with Brisbane club Mt Gravatt.
"I've been wanting to do it before, but work commitments prevented me. But this year it worked out and it has been fantastic," White said.
"Luckily, I know about eight of the team, who I've played with and against over the years. I've got to know them over the last two weeks and they've been the best group [that has ever represented the country].
"A few of them hadn't played for a month because of the elections (in PNG). It was a bit dangerous to travel, so we had a few underdone. But they're as hard as cats’ heads at the ball and it showed in those last couple of minutes when the game was on the line."
Incredibly, at 44, White is still playing with a local Brisbane team as he edges towards a personal milestone.
"I played seven or eight games this year. I've still got it and I'm 15-20 games off 600 senior games. I want to try to get to that mark and then hang up the boots," he said.