Waine replaces SP Hunters vice-captain in starting side
THE SP Hunters have been forced to make one change to their winning outfit for their Queensland Intrust Super Cup clash with the Cutters in Mackay on Saturday night (6pm kick-off).
Second-rower and vice-captain Keven Appo will miss the game after he was suspended for two matches for a shoulder charge during the Hunters’ 44-22 win over the Ipswich Jets in round 2 before the Easter weekend.
The Hunters defended Appo against a shoulder charge notice and felt they presented a good case of claiming it was a tackle gone wrong with no intent to make contact with the shoulder.
However, they were unsuccessful and he will miss the third-round clash with the Cutters and the April 17 home match against the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
It’s a minor setback for the 22-year-old from the outskirts of Goroka, Eastern Highlands, who deferred his final year science studies at university to establish himself in the Hunters and make the Kumuls squad for the upcoming World Cup.
He had been in good form and thriving in a leadership role.
Appo’s place will be taken by Emmanuel Waine, who has been coming off the bench and doing a fine job for Matthew Church’s side who go into the match against the winless Mackay with their confidence boosted by their 44-22 win against Ipswich, which followed an 18-20 loss to the unbeaten Wynnum Manly Seagulls.
Judah Rimbu comes on to the bench to take Waine’s spot. “We have good depth and the boys know we have to overcome little setbacks like this and be consistent,” Church said.
“The experience of the first two rounds has been invaluable as we didn’t quite know what to expect with so many newcomers in the squad and the new experience of being away from home.
“But everyone has adapted really well.
“This is another challenge travelling to Mackay.”
The only other player unavailable from the Hunters squad who have taken up residence at Runaway Bay on the Gold Coast is Kumuls prop Enock Maki.
Maki is at least another two weeks away from making his first appearance for 2021 after minor surgery to remove some floating bone in his knee.
His return may be timely for the Hunters who will be at least five rounds into the season when he is available.
Maki’s consistent go-forward and rugged defence will be a boost in what will be a challenging year for the squad.
The Hunters will enter this weekend in fifth place while the Cutters are 12th following an opening home loss to Redcliffe and then losing at Burleigh Bears.
The plane flight to Mackay will be the Hunters’ first trip away from Runaway Bay, where Church said the team had prepared well.
Hunters: 1 Terry Wapi, 2 Junior Rau, 3 Brendan Nima, 4 Jokadi Bire, 5 Brendon Gotuno, 6 Watson Boas, 7 Charlie Simon, 8 Epel Kapinias, 9 Wartovo Puara Jr, 10 Samuel Yegip, 11 Benji Kot, 12 Emmanuel Waine, 13 Ila Alu (C); Interchange: Edwin Ipape, Sylvester Namo, Mark Piti, Judah Rimbu.