ALLOW me to express my views on the performance of the PNG Hunters in the Queensland Intrust Cup competition.
Firstly, this was the third year running that the Hunters have failed to run into the semi-finals although being able to finish in the top four.
It must be known that the finals football is different and Michael Marum as the incumbent coach has been unsuccessful in shifting his gear to the finals atmosphere resulting in the Hunters falling out prematurely for the third time in a row.Marum has been utilising the best crop of players presently available in the country and for Hunters to succumb to teams in a second division competition is not a performance we Papua New Guineans appreciate.
The Hunters is automatically the Kumuls selection platform but their performance so far has been pathetic and calls for a review of the entire administration and coaching staff.
This is necessary because the three times that they have managed to finish in the top four is attributed to points collected from home games only.
They may have won one or two games away but the bulk of the points are from hosting home games.
While the Hunters has benefited enormously from the support by local fans, points scored for their wins have been from individual brilliance and strength but this style of football is of the 1980s.
Rugby League presently is skill based where the players play structured football as a team executing set plays.
Interestingly, I have never witnessed even one set play by the Hunters which calls for a review of the coaching arrangements for the good of the team as well as to promote development of the code in PNG.
The Digicel Cup Grand Final was a good case to use to justify my arguments.
Both the Rabaul Gurias and Lae Tigers displayed a higher level of football skills, which saw the ball going from one end to the other and capped off by a forward as the last recipient.
The Tigers proved to be the best as they were a confident bunch of young players who had the discipline and skills.
They executed their set plays so well to become victorious at the end and even their defence was also superior.
As for the Hunters, there seems to be no play-maker in the middle to direct traffic and create opportunities for either the backline or forwards to execute the final steps towards the try line.
League fans know very well that it is the half-back and the five-eighth who perform this duty and if we have been concentrating well then you will agree with me that worldclass players like Jonathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk do exactly that by putting the backline and forwards into perspective.
One standout weakness of the Hunters’ coaching staff has been their failure to maintain a winning formula and to assist players to develop as specialists in particular positions.
Each game is different with a new team, different players for different positions and there is barely any consistently at all.
The high injury rate is also attributed to players playing out of position and also for putting in extra effort to unnecessary lengths.
I therefore challenge the PNGNRL administrators to make changes to the coaching staff for 2017.
Marum should be relieved of the Hunters coaching duty and allow him to concentrate fully on the World Cup as the Kumuls coach.
The victorious Lae Tigers’ coach should be appointed as the new Hunters coach for 2017.
As well, new players from the Tiger and Gurias teams as well as other outstanding Digicel Cup players should be considered for Hunters’ duties.
League Judge, via email