PNG Kumuls star unable to force his way into Tigers’ starting side
By PARKER TAMBUA
LAE Tigers coach Stanley Tepend says he has so much depth that not even Papua New Guinea Kumul and former South Sydney Rabbitoh Edene Gebbie, pictured, can force his way into the starting side.
The former Wynnum Manly Seagull and SP Hunter has been overlooked since round six with Tepend retaining the side which lost their first game of the Digicel Cup season on Sunday.
In a rematch of last year’s grand final, defending champions Tigers – who boast the best attack in the 12-team competition – lost 4-24 to the Hela Wigmen at Port Moresby’s Sir John Guise Stadium.
The ladder leaders had signed Gebbie, a specialist fullback, to bolster their attack but a plethora of talents, including SP Hunters custodian Joe Joshua, has seen the 25-year-old remain on the extended bench following his return from injury.
“Gebbie returned to training before round seven and we’ve kept him on the extended bench since,” Tepend said.
“I do not want to bring him into the starting 17 because we’ve been playing well over the last four rounds and I didn’t want to disrupt our momentum.
“I have decided to maintain that winning team.
“They were all performing well and I did not want pull out a player for the sake of giving Gebbie game time.”
But three-time premiership winner Tepend said the Koiari native, who played in this year’s National Rugby League Nines, was still in the frame to play again this season.
“He could be back soon, probably in the last round (against the Port Moresby Vipers) or the finals,” he said.
“The Wigmen loss has given us a reality check.
“But we’ll only make changes if need be.”
The Tigers need to beat Ase Boas’ Vipers on Sunday if they are to claim the minor premiership, with the second-placed Rabaul Gurias ready to pounce.