By MELTON PAIS
SP PNG Hunters coach Michael Marum has named the largest pre-season squad in the club’s history, calling in 60 players from a cross section of Papua New Guinea’s major rugby league competitions.
The train-on-squad, including Bland Abavu, for the Q-Cup season were announced yesterday in Port Moresby in the presence of PNGRFL executives and sponsors.
“We are selecting players from all the competitions like Digicel Cup, Confederation trials, Port Moresby rugby league and UPNGRFL to give as many players a chance to make the Hunters squad,” Marum said.
“We have five tough weeks ahead of us and at the end of the day those players who prove themselves in all areas will make the final 30-man-squad.”
The squad assemble tomorrow and they will undergo medical and fitness tests.
“The first training starts on Thursday and go until December 23 where we have a two-week break and resume training on January 3.”
Marum said the club’s first assignment was to prepare a team for a trial match before the Q-Cup season kicked off in March.
Marum said he would be looking forward to meet the new players and observe how they handled training.
SP Brewery commercial manager Moses Williams announced the Hunters train-on squad yesterday alongside National Gaming Control Board chief executive officer Imelda Agon, PNGRFL chairman Sandis Tsaka and Hunters chairman Graham Osborne. Former Hunters winger Bland Abavu was included in the squad after returning from a season spent in Ipswich, Queensland.
With the departure of nine top line players in Ase Boas, Watson Boas, Thompson Teteh, Wartovo Puara Jr, Willie Minoga, Stargroth Amean, Rhadley Brawa, Edene Gabbie and Brendon Gotuno, Marum faces the task of rebuilding the team that has retained 15 players from last season.
Of the training squad, 10 players are from the PNG Residents Under-23s team including Brendon Nima, Edward Ipape and Woods Kawage, who were in the PNG Kumuls squad for the England Knights tour. Two players were selected from UPNGRFL, thanks to league president Sandis Tsaka Jr and a lone player was selected from Alotau Rugby League.
Meanwhile, Hunters chairman Osborne wished the outgoing Hunters players a best of luck and encouraged them to continue their careers wisely.
Outgoing Hunters players in the likes of Ase Boas, Watson Boas and Thompson Teteh to Featherstone Rovers, Willie Minoga, Wartovo Puara Jr, Stargroth Amen to Barrow Raiders in England and Rhadley Brawa and Edene Gabbie to Wynnum Namly in Queensland ISC
It was also revealed that Hunters back-rower Nixon Putt would join the Norths Devils in the Q-Cup next year.
“We wish them well and remind them to be good ambassadors both on and off the field,” Osborne said.
Hunters train-on-squad: Retained players – Adex Wera, Wawa Paul, William Mone, Junior Rau, Stanton Albert, McKenzie Yei, Baundo Aba, Ila Alu, Dilbert Issac, Enock Maki, Charlie Simon, Patrick Morea, Moses Meninga, Muka Peter Kulu, Butler Morris; New inclusions – Gairo Kapana, William Aquila, Epel Kapinias (Gurias), Shane Haro, Kennedy Ben, Kevin Appo, Benton Leme (Vipers), Joe Joshua, Edwin Ipape, Wesser Tenza, Junior Rop, JoeJoe Walamus (Tigers), Messac Wellan, Daniel Tapol, Melvin Paul (Wigmen), Abel Rami, Dickson Pipi, Maya Clark (Muruks), Emmanuel Waine, Joe Frank, Joshua Nani (Tumbe), Brendan Nima, Isaac Patrick, Nick Hasu, Baddy Jack (Lahanis), John Stanley, John Okopila (Isou), Woods Kawage, Kallen Thompson, Damien Herod, Livai Andrew, Eddie Daffa (Mioks), Schwazer Kandaki (Warriors), Morgan Gong, Chris Gor, Raphael Robert (PRL), Rex Kaupa, Sonny Wabo (Southern Zone), Justin Yoka, Jordan Pat, Gilmo Paul (Highlands Zone), Kitron Laka, Jerome Mura (UPNGRFL), Bland Abavu (Ipswich), Leeroy Kamau (Alotau RL); Coaching staff – Michael Marum (head coach), Nigel Hukula (Assistant coach), Solomon Kuliniasi (head trainer), Roger Laka (trainer/video analyst), Joe Bruno (trainer), Toua Kohu (trainer/physio), Dr Gideon Kendino (medical officer).
By MELTON PAIS