By ISAAC LIRI
THE PNG Hunters can create history by booking a spot in the 2017 Q-Cup grand final if they beat the Redcliffe Dolphins on Sunday at the National Football Stadium.
A win would see the club qualify for its first grand final. Despite losing to Tweed Head’s two weeks ago, coach Michael Marum spoke of their camp in Kimbe, West New Britain, as a mental refresher going into the major semifinal.
“The camp in Kimbe has been very good; everyone’s trained well and everyone is looking sharp for the finals. Mentally, I think we are ready,” Marum said.
The Hunters history in the finals has made for poor reading, having been knocked out 18-12 by the Sunshine Coast Falcons in the first week last year and in 2015 where they lost to the Blackhawks (26-12) and Jets (28-12) in successive matches.
Marum said his side had tried to learn from their past efforts and were determined to do better this time around.
“We’ve talked about our games last year and the year before and we know we have never won a finals match before but we want this year to be different and that is our plan,” Marum said.
“We know that we’ll have to raise the level of our game and we have worked on that. We have seen the videos of our last finals games and we have identified where we went wrong,”
The sides have split their two matches played this season with the Hunters edging the Dolphins 12-10 in round 7 at the NFS while Redcliffe got the better of Marum’s men 28-12 in the return fixture.
“They’ll have NRL experience in their side so we’ll have to be 100 percent mentally and physically fit,” Marum said.
The team named on Tuesday is unchanged, he will do so during the captain’s run on Saturday.
Outside back Bland Abavu who was named at centre to replace Israel Eliab has his coach’s confidence.
“If you’ve watched our games carefully Bland does play centre even though he’s named on the wing or at fullback.
“Our players shift around during games and sometimes Bland ends up there (at centre) in attack and sometimes defends there so I don’t see anything wrong with him playing in that position,” Marum said.
The only injury concern is Willie Minoga (back) however Marum said they would give him till tomorrow to prove his fitness.
Hunters: 1. Stargroth Amean 2. Paul Wawa 3. Bland Abavu 4. Adex Wera 5. Butler Morris 6. Ase Boas (C) 7. Watson Boas 8. Wellington Albert 9. Wartovo Puara Jr 10. Stanton Albert 11. David Loko 12. Nixon Put 13. Moses Meninga; Reserves: 14. Rhadley Brawa 15. Willie Minoga 16. Enoch Maki 17. Brandy Peter 18. Esau Siune 19.Karo Kauna Jr 20. Silas Gahuna.
Fixtures: Sun, Sept 10 – Major Semifinal – PNG Hunters v Redcliffe Dolphins, Elimination Semifinal – Easts Tigers v Sunshine Coast Falcons.
By ISAAC LIRI