The National, Thursday 20th of February, 2014
By JOHN PANGKATANA
THE Kimbe Invitational Sevens starting tomorrow kicks off a month off exciting rugby union including the national provincial championships from March 15-16.
The Pacific MMI-sponsored tournament has again drawn the cream of talent from around the country for an action filled two days in the West New Britain capital.
The core teams will take a break next weekend then fly down to Port Moresby to participate in the Kramer Usenco sponsored-Brothers 40th Anniversary Sevens tournament and then the NPC sevens the following weekend.
Rugby followers in Port Moresby can expect two weekends of action-packed entertainment.
Adding to the importance of the NPC sevens, the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football Union (PNGRFU) will use this championship to select the national sevens team for this year’s international duties.
This close rivalry will see New Guinea Island circuit regulars led by former national champions PMMI Kimbe Rebels, the Black Orchids, Madang Mad Gauns and Aroma Coast set the tone for quality competition over the next four weeks.
With Morobe and the CRU just completing their local competitions, their select teams will be firing as well.
This goes for the East New Britain Kaias and New Ireland Drongos, if they get financial support to come for the NPC.
The fleet-footed Daru Stingrays are confirmed for the two Port Moresby legs, as well as the unknown Gulf team from Iokea and Sepoe villages.
However this weekend, the injection of the SLS Cowboys will make their debut to make their presence felt in the Kimbe tournament.
The Gerehu Stage Two outfit from Tauri Ganiga Street are just overwhelmed more than anything else just to take part.
The experience of veteran and former national sevens skipper Paul Joseph and former Samoan Under-20 and Madang Mad Gauns representative Tui Fitiao adding size to the make-up, sees them as an outside chance against the seeded teams.
Throw in national AFL star Stanis Susuve, who has all the makings for a national call-up and his fellow ‘kakes’ from the Susuve clan in Emmanuel, David, Kilori and Matthew Owadeba, they will test the waters.
Joseph said they know the favourites are the Rebels, Black Orchids, Mad Gauns, Aroma Coast and Harlequins from Lae.
“The Cowboys are here for the long run and as this is our first run at this level…we have nothing to lose but to go out there and enjoy ourselves while being competitive,” Joseph said.
Other members of the Luanga crack outfit are skipper and playmaker Koini Kidi, Jack Raboni, Patrick Kairi, Dean Manale, Deaken Kidi, Simon Marafe, John Yagas and veteran Veva Hoki.
Kimbe Rugby Football Union president Frederick Matthies said local favourites the Kimbe Rebels are in good touch as well, and is looking forward to an exciting challenge ahead especially from the visiting teams, which includes the Rabaul Vikings as well.
Kimbe Rebels Team One are the obvious favourites with the Ponda brothers Gare, Gina and Tony plus PNG Sevens finisher Albert Levi Jr looking to retain the Cup.
The Kimbe Rebels Team two could be the dark-horses with current national sevens and Pukpuk centre Tisa Kautu, former Mad Gauns Kevin Wail and Pukpuks train-on squad member Ezra Kautu linking up with the talismanic Matthies.