By ROBINSON LEKA
PAPUA New Guinea Kumuls centre Justin Olam has been ruled out of Saturday’s Oceania Cup opener after injuring his hamstring during training with the Melbourne Storm over the weekend.
Kumuls coach Michael Marum before leaving Port Moresby for Sydney yesterday said SP Hunters’ Brendon Nima would replace Olam in the centres.
Marum said it was a major setback for the team.
“Nene McDonald has been out with injury for an extended period and now Justin, which we will have to deal with,” he said.
“Brendon will replace Justin and is travelling with us to Sydney.”
Nima wore the red, black and gold jersey in last year’s two-game series against the England Knights but will officially make his Kumuls debut against Samoa at Leichhardt Oval.
Enock Maki, Junior Rau, Moses Meninga, Stanton Albert, Terry Wapi and Brendon Nima were the six Hunters players based in the country who travelled with Marum to Sydney yesterday.
The six joined their Australian-based Kumuls teammates and the side went into camp to prepare for this weekend.
Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League chief executive Reatau Rau has called on supporters around the country to have faith in the Kumuls despite a tough year at club level.
The 12th-placed SP Hunters, who make up the bulk of the Kumuls, have just three wins from 14 Queensland Instrust Super Cup matches this season.
“We have made everything possible in the last couple of weeks to see change to assure our fans so that they stay with us through the tough times,” Rau said.
“The board, coaching team and the management are together.
“We’re just going through that patch and once we’ve come out, they’ll definitely be all smiles again.”
While announcing the continuation of their sponsorship yesterday, NGCB chief executive Imelda Agon backed the Hunters to improve this season.
“There are critics out there in terms of where the Hunters are going (this season),” she said.
“In reality, the performance of any organisation has a peak and it has to go down sometimes.
“Together, everybody achieves more.”
By ROBINSON LEKA