Puara scoops awards


SP Hunters have rewarded the veteran of their squad, Wartovo Puara Jr, with the most prestigious awards of their Queensland Intrust Super Cup (ISC) season while also recognising their next wave of talents during an emotional end to their time in Australia.
The decorated hooker took out three major awards at the Hunters’ presentation night for his performances as they completed their seven-month stay on the Gold Coast before returning home for the offseason.
The 31-year-old, who this year became the Hunters’ most-capped player, received awards for the chairman’s player of the year, best forward and players’ player for his work across their 17 matches of this season.
The Hunters fielded 12 debutants this year, including rookie of the year Benji Kot and Sylvester Namo (coach’s award) who were among the award recipients.
Solomon Kuliniasi is one of the most treasured members of the Hunters’ support staff and he was delighted to receive the clubman of the year award for his tireless work with the team since their inaugural season. But the most emotional moment of the night came when Jokadi Bire was named best back for his storming performances at centre.
The Chimbu native has announced that his career is over after the devastation of a serious heart issue that almost claimed his life three days after he starred against minor premiers Norths.
Bire bravely announced two weeks ago that doctors had advised him that he could not play again after recovering from emergency heart surgery which has given him the expectation of a long life.
The best back award will remain a wonderful recognition of the potential that Bire showed throughout this season as he made a sudden impact in his first ISC campaign.
“It’s been a season of sacrifice for this Hunters squad being away from home due to Coronavirus restrictions,” Hunters chief executive Scott Barker said.
“But we had some outstanding moments on the field that we recognised with these awards.
“Wartovo was a very deserving winner of the major awards for another high-quality season of football.
“He set a strong example to the younger players who learned so much this year, placing the Hunters in a promising position for next season.
“Jokadi’s award was well-deserved and a great sign of the bond that this team created during their seven months away.
“The benefits of this season will be realised in the years ahead, and the likes of Benji, Sylvester and our other 2021 debutants have promising futures with the team.” Awards winners: Wartovo Puara Jr (chairman’s player, best forward and players’ player of the year), Jokadi Bire (best back), Benji Kot (rookie of the year), Sylvester Namo (coach’s player), Solomon Kuliniasi (clubman of the year).