By ISAAC LIRI
THE PNG Hunters have suffered a blow with in-form centre Israel Eliab ruled out of the Q-Cup finals with a fractured left wrist.
The 26-year-old was injured early in the second half of the round 25 match against the Tweed Heads Seasgulls last Sunday.
Coach Michael Marum said it was unfortunate for Eliab, who had been having a solid 2017 season after returning from a brief stint in England with the London Broncos in the Kingstone Press Championship.
Eliab, normally a five-eighth, had made a good fist of the centres, playing 23 games for Hunters after a quiet return to the Q-Cup.
Although there is an outside chance Eliab could make a surprise return if the Hunters make the grand final on Sept 24, Marum said the team had accepted the situation and were now focusing on their major semifinal against the Redcliffe Dolphins on Sept 10.
“Our major injury concern for us now is Israel Eliab who suffered a fractured hand in the game against the Tweed Heads Seagulls and he’ll be out for at least four weeks,” Marum said.
“It’s really sad news for the team because Israel has been really consistent playing 23 games so far this season but unfortunately he’ll have to miss the finals.”
Marum said the club’s medical staff had advised him that there was no way of affecting a quick recovery and that Eliab had been booked for surgery on his wrist this week.
“We were hoping for some positive signs but we can’t see a quick recovery.
“It’s unfortunate for him and the rest of the team as well,” Marum added.
Lining up to take Eliab’s spot on the left edge are wingers Bland Abavu, Paul Wawa, Butler Morris and Karo Kauna Jr while Adex Wera and Willie Minoga have already played in the centres and would be the other options.
“All these players have played together with each other so it should be okay but again we want to see someone who can really work hard on defence and be smart.
“Last week we were caught out a lot of times out on the edges and the opposition could spread the ball left to right and so we’re still deciding who gets to play in Israel’s spot but the options are open.”
By ISAAC LIRI