Minoga off to UK

Sports

WILLIE Minoga is the ninth SP PNG Hunters player this year to leave the club, with the 31-year-old set to link up with Wartovo Puara Jr and Stargroth Amean at Barrow, England.
The players who have left the Hunters are: Ase Boas, Watson, Boas, Thompson Teteh (Featherstone Rovers – UK), Amean, Puara Jr (Barrow Raiders – UK), Rhadley Brawa, Edene Gabbie (Wynnum Manly Seagulls – Q-Cup), Brendon Gotuno (Penrith, Sydney).
The man known as the ‘Freight Train’ and ‘Mack truck’ by fans for his fearless running style is a foundation Hunter (2014), who also spent a season with the Townsville Blackhawks in the 2016 Q-Cup season.
Barrow Raiders rugby director Andrew Gaffney said the club was excited with the acquisition of a player of Minoga’s reputation.
“Minoga’s signing will bring excitement and experience in equal measure when he links up with Barrow Raiders for the 2019 Betfred Championship season,” a statement on the club’s website said.
Minoga, who can play in the pack as well as at centre, becomes the third PNG international to agree to terms with the Raiders for next season, and partly fills the void left by Alec Susino and Joe Bullock.
Minoga’s arrival at the Cumbria club will complement the signing of experienced forward Gareth Hock, along with retention of props Tom Walker and Glenn Riley.
And Gaffney is enthused by what he believes Minoga will add to the Barrow squad.
“He’s an international forward and he comes with the highest reputation, and I think he’s destined to excite the Barrow public with the way he plays,” Gaffney, said.
“We had a talk with Cresta (Raiders head coach Paul Crarey) and he sees Willie as an importance piece.
“With Gareth Hock coming in as well, I think he’s a really good signing for us. He’ll definitely make some breaks and break the line. He’s got an offload as well and now we’ve put these players in place, the rest of the back-line can follow on the shoulder of these players because we will get breaks this year. We just have to make sure the team is right to support them.”
Minoga is perhaps best known for scoring the match-winning try for the Hunters in the 2017 Q-Cup final against the Sunshine Coast.
He was part of the Kumuls’ squad for the World Cup that year too, featuring in the group stages against Wales and Ireland, and against England in the quarterfinals.
Minoga, Puara and Amean are set to join with the squad for pre-season training this month and Gaffney expects them all being together to help the process of settling into their new surroundings.
“It’s quite good to have three of them, especially with them coming over together and training together,” Gaffney said.
“They’ll soon be mixing with our lads and it will be better going forward, really. They all come really fit and ready to go, so it should be good and it’s quite exciting to have the front-line we’ve got.”
The PNGRFL are expected to make a statement on the number of players pursuing contracts in overseas clubs today.

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