Junior development a priority


PAPUA New Guinea Hunters and Kumuls coach Michael Marum’s naming of Kopen Secondary School centre Thompson Yakambu to be part of the Hunters trial in December shows the PNGRFL is serious about providing a pathway for promising juniors.
Marum was a guest at the Enga Schoolboys Rugby Football League grand finals at the behest of PNG Rugby Football League chairman Sandis Tsaka to identify talent.
Also present were Highlands Confederate director Joe Tokam,  national selector Max Tiri and former Kumul David Noifa.
They were all impressed with the size and ability of the 17-year-old.
Marum said Yakambu’s selection is only for the Hunters trials to prepare, develop and groom the youngster.
“Thompson has potential and we’ll give him a run at the Hunters camps in Port Moresby and Hides (Hela) as part of our 40-man preseason squad,” Marum said.
“He’s someone who caught the eye with his performance and he’ll learn a lot from the camps and hopefully that helps him develop his game as well as his attitude.”
“We’ll have two camps — Port Moresby and Hides Gas — for the Hunters and one open camp for the Highlands region in Goroka.
“I’m making a commitment to travel PNGRFL-affiliated leagues to help them identify their best talent and tell them about our national pathway.”
Marum has dipped into the local and junior leagues in the confederations before with Nickson Borona and Gahuna Silas two players who were identified from the juniors as potential stars.
The 43-year-old has also drafted in promising Digicel Cup talent such as Bernard Goma and Junior Rop, proving that his search for talent is not confined to the one competition, level or grade.
PNGRFL chairman Tsaka said the schoolboys league would be the foundation of the PNG Hunters Under-20s starting in 2018 when the club enters a side in the FOGS (Former Origin Greats) Colts competition, run by the QRL.
Tsaka said that would be similar to the NRL, where the Holden Cup provided a junior development programme for each franchise.

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