The National, Monday October 28th, 2013
KUMUL Dion Aiye does not know what to make of his shift to the backrow.
The 24-year-old, who has played rugby league exclusively in the halves for Papua New Guinea since making his debut in the 2009 Pacific Cup in Port Moresby, said he had never played in the forwards before the warm-up game against Scotland last week.
He began his career as a five-eighth for the inter-city franchise the Mt Hagen Eagles in 2008.
“Playing in the forwards isn’t really my first preference but I’ll play where they (coaching staff) pick me. The game against Scotland was my first in the forward pack. They’ve got me working on the left edge with Ase (Boas) and Menzie (Yere),” Aiye said.
Although he is at home at five-eighth the Gurias’ pivot will more than likely be required to fill a forward’s role with only three props, four backrowers and two hookers in Adrian Lam’s 23-man World Cup squad.
With Ray Thompson, Roger Laka, Ase Boas and Israel Eliab all being able to play in the halves means Aiye will have limited opportunities in the back line.
Aiye was the first choice halfback for the Kumuls at the 2010 Four Nations and has been used as a distributor and kicker in Prime Minister’s XIII matches since then but those demands will no longer be required of him on this tour.
“I won’t be in a playmaker’s role or do the kicking anymore. I’m not sure why I’m being used in the forwards but the selections are up to the management, it’s in their hands.”
Defensively Aiye is capable of pulling of big hits but with the new laws banning the shoulder charge he will have to find other ways to impose himself on the opposition.
It should not be too hard though. At 180cm and 99kg the Western Highlander has the built to survive in the battle of attrition that is forward play.
Lam has said players in the squad would need to be used in more than one position at this tournament but he was confident with the men he has.
Aiye’s mobility, crash-tackling and ball-playing ability will come in handy on the left side but when asked whether the move would be permanent he said it was unlikely.
“I don’t think I’ll be playing secondrow for the Gurias next year.”
Aiye is not the only one adjusting to a new role with fellow backliners Richard Kambo and Jesse Joe Nandye also making the transition to the pack at this World Cup.