By PETER PUSAL
THE success of the SP PNG Hunters in 2017 has been built on four years of hard work, coach Michael Marum says.
The team’s history-making Q-Cup grand final win was a culmination of goals Marum said the team had set themselves and even though they left it till the last minute to claim the title at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, on Sept 24, the unflappable Marum was never in doubt of the outcome.
A 12-10 win over the Sunshine Coast Falcons in dramatic circumstances would have tested the resolve of even the most hardened coach and yet Marum, a 43-year-old former Kumul, who had served a long apprenticeship under the likes of Bob Bennett, Adrian Lam and Mal Meninga, stayed positive from the first minute to the last.
“Even though we were behind, I was still positive because I knew all we had to do was get a back-to-back set in their half and we’d score,” Marum said.
“The Q-Cup grand final win was the result of a build up for us. I think we had the right group this year. The combinations were there and we knew what we were going to get from each player.
“Obviously, we started out in 2014 and wanted to achieve things during the first year and then we built on from that and learned as a team along the way. It’s been a great journey, but it’s not over yet.
“We learned over the first two or three years to do things better and the challenge was always there every year with our squad changing with guys coming in and others dropping out.”
Marum said being disciplined, doing the basics well and being consistent and professional with their preparation put the team in great stead every season.
“Our Q-Cup win was really based on a great team effort. I can’t single out any one player because at the end of the day everyone played a part. Everyone did their job.
“We were consistently achieving all our goals throughout the season and I just felt that we would achieve something big this year,” Marum said of the small goals the team had set itself and met, and how that had had a positive effect on the team.
“We’d set a goal of getting eight competition points from our first six games and from there we’d look to the next group of matches and set similar goals on where we wanted to be after that number of games.
“When we started easily meeting and going past those goals, that’s when I knew we were going to have a really good year.” Despite the great form and the wins piling up, Marum said that funnily enough, claiming the minor premiership was never a team goal although they had counted on finishing in the top two by the final round of the season.
Marum said he had kept staying positive and hopeful that the Hunters would win the competition by their fifth year, and given their efforts every season, the goal was never far from reach.
“We had a saying in camp that 2014 was our first year so we just came and saw things, but 2015 was the practice, 2016 the warm up and 2017 was game time. We did that.”
Marum said going forward the Hunters would be keen to defend their title next year and continue building on their success and making the improvements needed to stay competitive and achieve their goals.
“We’ll still do the same things in preparations and training. We won’t change our structures much because they’re working, but having said that there’s always room for improvement.
“We don’t need to make big changes to how we do things but we can always improve on what we do.”
By PETER PUSAL