Hunters looking to build on Falcons clash


THE SP PNG Hunters will welcome a change of scenery from their Gold Coast training base as they head to Atherton to build on an encouraging performance last weekend in
Saturday’s clash with Northern Pride.
The match is part of Intrust Super Cup’s Country Week and takes the Hunters to the
Northern Tablelands and out of southeast Queensland for the first time since their Round 3 win in Mackay.
And while they have lost two players with injury from the 26-12 loss to Sunshine Coast last
Saturday — centre Joe Joshua (knee) and second-rower Sylvester Namo (sprained hand) — a bonus is they welcome back second-rowers Keven Appo from injury and Emmanuel Waine from suspension. This allows coach Matthew Church to play the lively Benji Kot at centre for the first time this season. It was ISC rookie Kot’s regular position in the domestic Digicel Cup competition and gives the Hunters an extra attacking dimension with the physical Western Highlander, who has been a starting second-rower, taking his try tally to seven from 10 matches with his double against the Falcons last weekend.
“Having Keven and Emmanuel back gives us the chance to play Benji in the centres and that’s his natural position, although he’s made a really good fist of playing in the back row this season,” Church said.
Meanwhile, Hunters centre Jokadi Bire continues to make good improvement in hospital on the Gold Coast after recent surgery. Despite the recent Covid lockdown, Bire remains in daily contact with his teammates on the Gold Coast and with family at home.
Hunters will play Northern Pride at Atherton JRL Grounds, Atherton, at 5.30pm on Saturday. PNG Hunters: Terri Wapi, Junior Rau, Brandon Nima, Benji Kot, Brandon Gutono, Ase Boas, Charlie Simon, Stanton Albert, Wartovo Puara Jnr, Enock Maki, Emmanuel Waine, Keven Appo, Ila Alu (C); Interchange: Judah Rimbu, Dilbert Isaac, Mark Piti, Samuel Yegip, Solo Wane. Northern Pride: Jayden Corrigan, Shawn Bowen, Grant Anderson, Evan Child, Bernard Lewis, Tom Steadman, Matthew Egan, Nick Lui-Toso, Jayden Hodges, Rod Griffin, Joshua Stuckey. 12. Ewan Moore. 13. Terrence Casey-Douglas; Interchange: Denzel King, Kenneth Fonoti, Lata Fakalelu, Paea Pua.