Aiton to lead

Main Stories, Sports

CRONULLA hooker Paul Aiton will captain an experienced PNG Prime Minister’s XIII this Sunday against their Australian counter-parts in Port Moresby.
The workaholic utility was given the nod to lead a 22-man side made up of tried and tested players such as forwards Rodney Pora, Charlie Wabo and George Moni and three-quarters Larsen Marabe and Jesse Joe Parker and an in-form Benjamin John.
Aiton, who can also play lock, missed out on last year’s Pacific Cup triumph but has been promoted by Kumul selectors and coaching staff as a possible longterm leader heading into the new decade.
Overseas players include rookies in Queensland Cup player Desmond Mok, New Zealand-based Joe Pombo and Gold Coast Titans Toyota Cup back Ryan Tongia.
Making a welcome return to the Kumul jersey is exciting winger Michael Mark, who fell out of favour from national duties, but has reclaimed a starting spot off the              back of some impressive form for the Hunslet Hawks in England.
Of the bemobile Cup players, veteran forwards Johnson Kuike of the Rangers  and Lahanis’ Tony Dai were surprise inclusions while minor premiers Mendi Muruks could only muster utility  Andrew Sam.
Gurias, Vipers, Rangers and Lahanis provide the bulk of the local players with coach Stanley Gene paying tribute to resident and international players saying they would do their country proud.
“At the end of the day, I want players who can really have a go for the team. We might not have all our best players here but this is an opportunity for the fellows coming in to show us what they have,” Gene said.
“ I want them to believe in themselves and go into the game with the right attitude. I’m sure we can play well against Australia.”
The PNG Prime Minister’s XIII: Ryan Tongia, Michael Mark, Larsen Marabe, Jesse Joe Parker, Elizah Riyong, Dion Aiye, Benjamin John, Rodney Pora (vc), Paul Aiton (c), George Moni, Sigfred Gande, Rod Griffin, Glen Nami, Joe Pombo, Charlie Wabo, Tony Dai, Desmond Mok, Nickson Kolo, Pidi Togap, Johnson Kuike, Andrew Sam and James Nightingale. 
According to Gene, Menzie Yere, Makali Aizue, Richard Kambo, Keith Peters and Tu’u Maori will be considered after club commitments.
A 30-man Kumul train-on squad will also be announced after the PM’s XIII game which will include more players from sides involved in the bemobile Cup playoff.