The National,Wednesday March 16th, 2016
By JACK AMI
THE Papua New Guinea Hunters are on the verge of matching their best start to a season when they face the Tweed Heads Seagulls in Port Moresby on Saturday.
The Hunters won their opening three games of their first season in 2014 (24-18 v Dolphins, 24-16 v Cutters, and 46-14 v Capras) and the match under lights at the National Football Stadium will see the venue host its first Intrust Super Cup game. For the round 3 fixture, coach Michael Marum has brought in lock Adam Korave and backs Adex Wera and Atte Bina from suspension, while Benjamin Hetra was left out of the squad after picking up a knee injury in the side’s 24-10 win over the Wynnum Manly Seagulls last Sunday.
Philemon Kimisive, who made his debut in the opening round win over Souths Logan, drops out of the 19-man team.
Marum has continued with the Boas brothers Watson and Ase, in the halves but admitted that changes could be made in the lead up to the clash.
“Ase and Watson (Boas) will start in the halves again. Ase has a sore (left) ankle so we’re monitoring him and if we need to make a change, we’ll do it at the end of the week.
“The same goes for the other players named,” Marum said.
“Benji injured his knee and has been advised by the doctor to rest the leg for a game but he’s still moving and training us.”
If Ase Boas is unable to overcome the injury, then Bina will slot into five-eighth, meaning the Hunters will have the third different halves combination in as many games for the South Pacific Brewery-sponsored side.
Back-rower Ishmael Balkawa, who scored his first try for the Hunters last round and winger Justin Olam, who has bagged two four-pointers and has so far impressed with his blend of power, speed and skills, keep their starting jerseys while Bina, Wera and Korave have been named on an extended bench.
Prop Esau Siune will play his 45th game for the Hunters while Wera, if he takes the field, will play his 47th game.
Co-captain Noel Zeming, who had a slight limp at training yesterday, has been given until end of the week to prove his fitness after aggravating a left knee injury last round. The Hunters have a 3-1 record against Tweed Heads, but the Seagulls have inflicted the heaviest defeat on the PNG side – a 60-28 thrashing on the Gold Coast in 2014. Hunters: Stargroth Amean, Bland Abavu, Noel Zeming (c), 4 Thompson Teteh, Justin Olam, Ase Boas, Watson Boas, Henry Wan, Wartovo Puara Jr, Esau Siune,11 Nickson Borana, Warren Glare, Ishmael Balkawa; Res: Atte Bina, Adex Wera, Adam Korave (c), Edward Goma, Brandy Peter, Tuvi Lepan.