Church praises Tepend


COACH Matthew Church says he is excited to work with new assistant coach Stanley Tepend as the SP Hunters look to reach the Queensland Intrust Super Cup finals for the first time since 2017.
He said the Digicel Cup premiership-winning Lae Tigers coach would bring a wealth of experience and a winning mentality to the 2017 champions, who finished 10th in the 14-team rugby league competition last season.
“The Hunters are pathway to Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) and that should not be for players only but for staff members too,” Church said of the South Pacific Brewery-sponsored side.
“I am excited to work with Stanley.
“I have been in close contact with him over the last two years as soon as I was appointed as the Hunters coach.
“So I’m looking forward to it because I know what he brings to the table.
“He has had so much success in PNG and is very impressive.”
Church said the four-time premiership winner and Papua New Guinea Kumuls legend would add to the mentoring depth at the Hunters, who also have former representative rake Paul Aiton as an assistant coach.
“PNG Rugby Football League chairman Sandis Tsaka spoke about how resourced we are in terms of coaching,” he said.
“Our performance staff and coaches upgraded their qualifications while we were based on the Gold Coast for last season.
“They got to work with Jeremy Hickmans, who was our high performance manager.
“He served as a high performance manager at the NRL and international levels under Wayne Bennett for 15 year.
“Hickmans has now taken a new role with the Canberra Raiders for the 2022 season.
“But he worked with our staff and performance boss Solomon Kuluniasi has taken giant leaps.
“We have now added Stanley Tepend to Paul Aiton and myself.
“So in terms of coaching, the Hunters have never been this well-resourced.”
Meanwhile, Church said he was expecting the 12 new faces in his 32-man train-on squad to learn from the experiences of the current players.
He said vaccination was mandatory for the final squad who would be based at Runaway Bay on the Gold Coast for a second-straight season.

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