The National, Tuesday 14th Febuary 2012
By JOHN SUPA
NURTURING and grooming young talents to boost the ranks of reigning Digicel Cup champions Bintangor Goroka Lahanis is an ongoing programme.
It will also make the Lahanis one of the formidable teams in the semi-professional rugby league competition.
It is also part of the Lahanis franchise owner Simon Sia’s aim to see the Lahanis make it their third consecutive win this year.
Apart from the normal talent identification and selecting talents from the two of the local competitions, the Goroka rugby league and Gahuku off-season league, the Eastern Highlands Schoolboys rugby league is proving to be a worthwhile concept and player base to supplement Lahanis’ dominance.
After shocking 11 other teams to win the grand final of the inaugural Simon Sia Challenge Cup last week, the EHSBRL now have six players contesting for spots in the Lahanis team for the 2012 season.
In the trial match between Goroka Reds and Goroka Whites at the National Sports Institute on Sunday, Eastern Highlands Schoolboys playmaker Nathan Millie, lock Vincent Apo and utility Muabe Kaupa from Reds and Charlie Oliver (outside centre), five-eighth Sonny Bill and inter change Makia Keith from Whites caught the limelight over their experienced opponents. A 17-man squad to clash with the existing Lahanis side on Sunday will be announced today.
Goroka Whites prop Damien Bage, who copped an injury during the Lahanis trial match last year, was also impressive.
He has recuperated and should be the likely replacement for veteran Tony Dai.
Last year, the Bintangor Lahanis board released a handful of players from last year’s victorious side.
Two others have also retired and spots are up for the taking.
However, the selection tournament director Benzie Filele, technical director Danny Nami and Lahanis coaching director Peter Danga said there were strict selection criteria and processes in place for the players.