By JACK AMI
SP PNG Hunters coach Michael Marum has kept faith in his troops by naming a largely unchanged side for Sunday’s Intrust Super Cup clash with the Northern Pride.
The Hunters returned a patchy performance in their first outing last Saturday with a 10-0 loss to the Tweed Heads Seagulls away but they are expected to be a different proposition at home.
Winger Junior Rau, pictured, returns to the side pushing Brendon Nima to the extended bench while McKenzie Yei, who was cleared of a dangerous throw charge, starts in the second-row in place of Ila Alu who was ruled out from six weeks with a fractured left forearm.
Marum said he was not putting too much pressure on his halves pairing of Charlie Simon and William Mone after one game under their belts.
The pair struggled to get the Hunters offence going against the Seagulls and have another opportunity to prove themselves at the National Football Stadium.
Marum admitted he was concerned that the Hunters were not making full use of their opportunities in attack but refused to blame any individuals preferring instead to allow the team to work as a cohesive unit and continue to develop their combinations.
He said the halves and hooker and fullback would need to work better in coordination on attack especially with the pack setting a good platform.
Marum commended Simon for a strong performance but added that rugby league was not a one-man sport and the five-eighth would need his teammates to lift to complement what he was doing as a play-maker and organiser.
Captain Adex Wera said the side had given its best but had made too many mistakes at crucial moments against Tweed Heads to change the outcome.
“Our fifth-tackle plays were not good and we need to fix that up as well as our finishing,” Wera said.
Simon added that he and Mone would work on their calls and direction and game management in order for the Hunters to maximise their chances in the opposition half.
Marum agreed: “We really need to work harder with these new combinations to setting and executing our attack.
“We should do well in front of the home crowd so hopefully they come out in numbers to support their team.”
Stanton Albert and Epel Kapinias have been named on the extended bench.
The curtain-raiser will be a Digicel Cup trial match between new franchises the Central Dabaris and Gulf Isou which kicks off at 12.15pm.
Hunters play the Pride at 3pm in their first home game for 2019 and Round two of the ISC competition.
Gates at the Oil Search National Football Stadium open at 11am.
The Hunters beat the Pride 18-8 in their last match at the NFS which was in round 18.
SP Hunters: 1. Joe Joshua, 2. Junior Rau, 3. Bland Abavu, 4. Adex Wera (c), 5. Gairo Kapana, 6. Charlie Simon, 7. William Mone, 8. Moses Meninga (vc), 9. Patrick Morea, 10. Enoch Maki, 11. McKenzie Yei, 12. Daniel Tapol, 13. Junior Rop; Reserves: 14. Nick Hasu, 15. Brendon Nima, 16. Dilbert Isaac, 17. Stanton Albert, 18. Wawa Paul, 19. Butler Morris, 20. Epel Kapinias (two to be ommitted).
By JACK AMI