Hunters return home


THE SP Hunters returned to the country on Wednesday afternoon, ending a seven-month Intrust Super Cup season-long stay in Queensland, Australia.
The side were based at Runaway Bay on the Gold Coast.
The returning contingent was made up of 28 players and five staff members, who all would undergo a 21-day quarantine in Port Moresby.
Hunters commercial manager Alan Moramora, who was at the Jackson International Airport to receive the team on behalf of club chairman Stan Joyce, told The National that the Hunters remained upbeat.
“It’s good to have the Hunters back home,” he said of coach Matthew Church’s men, who finished 10th in the 14-team competition.
“They haven’t seen their families since March and we are very happy to have them back.
“The boys had a tough season due to relocation and the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
“We had a great start to the season but we dropped off after the fourth week.
“Covid-19 didn’t help. We missed out on three weekends of football which the players had to accept.
“We completed the remainder of the season and finished off on a good note.
“That’s a positive sign for us going into next season.”
Moramora said some of the Hunters players had received their second jabs of the Covid-19 vaccine, so those men would only spend seven days in quarantine.
He said the rest of the players who had not been jabbed would spend 21 days.
Jokadi Bire, who had undergone emergency heart surgery earlier this year, also arrived with the team.
The Chimbu native was welcomed by his family at the airport, but they couldn’t get close to him due to Covid-19 protocols.
It was an emotional scene for Bire’s friends and family as they sung a traditional Chimbu war cry with messages written on banners.
Bire’s rugby league career was cut short by the surgery.