Hunters counting on rookies

Sports

By ROBINSON LEKA
SP Hunters coach Matthew Church says the rookies in his final 29-man squad will lay the foundation for Digicel Cup players to enter tougher competitions like Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL).
Eleven rookies between the ages of 19 and 23 have been named in the final squad which will relocate to the Gold Coast for the upcoming Queensland Intrust Super Cup season.
“I’m happy with the experience in the team,” Church said.
“But there are 11 new faces in the squad and they’re all young.
“I believe the Hunters should be a pathway to tougher competitions.
“NRL clubs are monitoring younger players.
“They’re not picking someone between the ages of 26 and 27 years when they have just a few years of development left in them.
“But we want to draw from the experience of senior players, that’s why we’ve also selected men like Ase Boas and Wartovo Puara Jr.”
Meanwhile, Church said the late withdrawal of Hela Wigmen forward Valentine Culligan had opened up the possibility of adding another player to the squad.
But he said it would depend on how quick player applications were processed.
“We’re a bit hamstrung with the relocation and the (application) process,” the Australian said. “But we’re still working through a couple of things in and around the squad.”
Church said they were also looking at Queensland-based Papua New Guineans filling the void if the need arises.

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