Skipper says Hunters miss home advantage

Ila Alu

SP Hunters captain Ila Alu says competing away from home is a big challenge as they miss playing in front of their home fans at the Oil Search National Football Stadium in Port Moresby.
The South Pacific Brewery-sponsored team will play a second-straight season away in the Hostplus Cup (formerly Queensland Intrust Super Cup) next year due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Alu said last week that the team would stay focused on the new season despite the challenges as they were aiming to make the finals for the first time since 2017.
“We miss playing in front of our home fans,” the forward said.
“But these are trying times.
“The Covid-19 is something we didn’t expect. We had to make the sacrifice and play the whole season away from home this year.
“We started the season well, but there were many little factors that let us down.
“It was another disappointing season. We know how much rugby league means to our country and the significance behind the ‘Hunters’ name.”
Alu said he was confident that Matthew Church and assistant coaches Paul Aiton and Stanley Tepend were working on a plan for the Hunters to improve on their 10th-place finish next season.
“I am confident that we will get better as we go forward,” the former Rabaul Guria said.
“I have faith in our coaching staff and the rookie players in our train-on squad.
“The plan is there, however, we just have to work extra hard as a team.
“Every player has to make full use of the opportunity and contribute effectively to the team. “
Alu said him and other old faces would work with the rookies in the final squad to help them transition to life on the Gold Coast.
“We faced the challenges of relocation for the first time last season,” he said.
“But for next year, it’s going to be a smoother transition as the current players will impart their experiences from last season.”