Frontrow reshuffles

Normal, Sports

The National, Thursday February 27th, 2014


PROPS Timothy Lomai and Gonzella Urakusie have a huge job ahead to anchor the PNG Hunters engine room in their Intrust Super Cup (ISC) rugby league opener against competition heavyweights Redcliffe Dolphins this Sunday.

Lomai and Urakusie were named to start ahead of favourites Esau Siune (not named), Joe Bruno (18th player) and Mark Mexico (injured) by coach Michael Marum yesterday.

Marum said both have been consistent in their training and won their spots based on their positive performances in the two trial matches.    

The SP Brewery sponsored Hunters line-up was yesterday confirmed by Marum.

Marum said it will be a tough job up front and both Lomai and Urakusie have been given the opportunity to prove their worth.   Both played in last year’s Digicel Cup grand-final between the Port Moresby Vipers and the Goroka Lahanis.

This is a huge step for the duo who were not considered for the World Cup, but Marum believes his big men have progressed well and will lead by example.

“The Dolphins like most teams in this competition have big forwards and it doesn’t matter who we start with, it will always be a test of character and passion to lead,” he said.

“It will be a long season ahead and those that are not named will get their chance as you can expect injuries,” he added.

Lomai, from Pangia in the Southern Highlands Province, has come a long way from being used off the bench for the Port Moresby Vipers to get a starting role.

With size likely to being an issue, Marum has named Tox Mix Dogs home-boy Brandy Peter in the second-row with David Loko.

Peter also from Pangia, was impressive in the two trial matches and gets to push his weight around bigger company.

The only other starter that has won a shot ahead is speedster Albert Patak in the centres. Patak who had season ending injury last season, has been rewarded for sticking to his rehabilitation programme.

Marum said they have worked on several areas including quicker play the balls around the rucks and slowing the opposition down.

“The more matches we play will allow the players to make it second nature and getting used to the referee’s calls,” he added.  

The match which is the Channel 9 match of the round will set the tone for Hunters entry into Queensland’s 26 round semi-professional competition. Starting line-up: Adex Wera (full-back), Gary Lo, George Benson (wings), Patak, Thompson Teteh (centres), Israel Eliab (five-eighth – C ), Roger Laka (half-back), Lomai, Urakusie (props), Wartovo Puara Jnr (hooker), Loko, Peter (second-row), Sebastian Pandia (lock).

Inter-change: Willie Minoga (utility back/forward), Adam Korave (forward), Noel Zemming (utility back), Lawrence Tu’u (hooker).

The team flies out today to Brisbane to be present during the QLD Rugby League official launch of the ISC tomorrow. The Hunters promotional film clip will also be played during the launch.