By JACK AMI
|CENTRAL is pushing for a place in the 2018 Digicel Cup run by the PNG National Rugby League Competition.
This was confirmed by rugby league administrator Ivan Ravu yesterday.
Ravu said the Southern Region League Nines tournament – which starts on Sunday — will not only be an exciting festival of football but will also be a hunting ground to select a 50-man training squad for a Central franchise for the inter-city competition.
The 68 teams competing in the regional tournament will provide the selectors the opportunity to identify promising players.
“This (selecting a Central franchise) is one of our main objectives when the tournament was inaugurated in 2003,” Ravu said.
He said the squad would be trimmed down to 25 by the end of January as per the requirement by the PNGNRLC.
“It was not just the success of the Team Central winning gold in nines competition at the recent PNG Games but it had always been my opinion that we have untapped talent in the Central that must be given an opportunity” Ravu said.
“There must be a pathway for Central youths to develop and progress in their careers.
“There are numerous players that have come through the rural tournament through to Port Moresby Rugby League competition and into Digicel Cup and Kumuls.”
In the past few years, Central has produced players like Abavu brothers Josiah and Bland, and Kato Ottio, the former national volleyball player who switched to rugby league.
“Recently Israel Wari of Marshall Lagoon was picked up by the PNG Hunters scouts for his performance at the recent PNG Games in Kimbe to be in their 44-man train on squad,” Ravu said.
He credited the coaching staff of Wari’s Lagoon Pirates team for mentoring him be a standout talent in the Southern 9s and Corporate 9s competitions who was recruited into the PNG Hunters train-on squad.
By JACK AMI