The National, Monday January 12th, 2015
PAPUA New Guinea Kumul and Hunters play-maker Dion Aiye has signed for Whitehaven in England for the 2015 Championship season.
Haven coach Steve Deakin confirmed the signing, saying the club was expecting Aiye next week.
Aiye played for Michael Marum’s SP Hunters in the Queensland Cup competition in its debut season last year playing a variety of roles from the halves to the back-row.
The 26-year-old was part of Adrian Lam’s 2013 World Cup squad and played his best game against New Zealand in the final pool match which PNG lost 56-10.
Aiye’s second half confrontation with Kiwi superstar Sonny Bill Williams was a highlight of the hard-tackling Southern Highlander’s rugged style.
Prior to the World Cup, Aiye was the starting halfback for Stanley Gene’s Four Nations side in 2010. He was thrown a life-line by Marum in the Q-Cup last year after initially missing out on the Hunters squad and started in the Round 9 clash against the Burleigh Bears and was expected to stay on with the club after being named in its offseason training squad last November.
Aiye’s signing brings the number of Kumuls – current and former – playing in the United Kingdom to eight with Jessie Joe Parker, Jason Tali, Charlie Wabo, Mark Mexico, Gary Lo, Makali Aizue and Menzie Yere being the other players.
Aiye is expected to arrive in northern England next week to join Whitehaven and will play a part in Haven’s pre-season games in the build up to the new campaign.
Head coach Steve Deakin was stoked with acquiring the 96kg half who is a noted defender and distributor.
“He’s a superb utility player who made a great impression during the World Cup,” Deakin said.
“The fact that he’s got a lot of utility about him means he will add a lot of value to our side.
“I think this is a signing that will excite the fans.
“Looking at his international teammate Jessie Joe Parker and how well he has integrated, not just in this country but in this community.
“I think that bodes well for Dion.” Haven chief executive Barry Richardson echoed the sentiments and added that Aiye’s visa application had been successful and the club was looking forward to having a quality international in its ranks.
“We are delighted to have signed a quality player like Dion,” Richardson said.
“He has received his visa application and will be joining us next week. It only took five weeks for us to get his application through so we are delighted.
“We still feel we need to bring a couple more bodies in but we are so pleased to have a quality, international player at the club.
“We are still exploring other avenues to bring in new players but we won’t be signing anyone for the sake of signing them. We want players who will add value to the side.”
On Parker’s return to the club Richardson added: “Unfortunately his visa still has not been granted.
“We are working at the moment to expedite the process.
“The club completed its side of the application in October and we are hoping for a quick resolution at Jessie’s end.”
Both Parker and Aiye are in Port Moresby. – News and Star UK