Eleven new faces – Jokedi Bire, Norman Brown, Edwin Ipape, Benji Kot, Sylvester Namo, Gilmo Paul, Solomon Pokare, Judah Rimbu, Jefferey Robert, Solo Wane and Samuel Yegip – have been named in the Final SP PNG Hunters squad for the 2021 Queensland Intrust Super Cup season.
They join Stanton Albert, Ila Alu, Keven Appo, Ase Boas, Casey Dickson, Brendon Gotuno, Joe Joshua, Epel Kapinias, Enock Maki, Brendan Nima, Stanley Olo, Mark Piti, Wartovo Puara Jnr, Junior Rau, Junior Rop, Charlie Simon, Emmanuel Waine and Terry Wapi in the final squad announced in Port Moresby today.
SP Hunters coach Matthew Church said the squad was selected on the way they wanted to play this season.
“The suitability to the Hunters playing style and the introduction of some new game rules were major considered when finalizing the squad,” he said.
Church said six players – Ricko Jimmy, Rhadley Brawa, Sunny Lipu, Ben Kennedy, Jordan Pat and Valentine Culligan (study commitments) – were released.
“It was a tough conversation to have with each player, one part of the job of a coach we don’t look forward to but it’s best to be honest,” he said. “It’s not a flat no but a not now situation and we encouraged them to keep working hard and playing well in the Digicel Cup season,” he said.
SP Brewery Managing Director Ed Weggemans was on hand to witness the Final 29 -man squad and wished them every success in 2021.
“Congratulations to the selected players. SP Brewery is proud to support the SP Hunters and joins every Papua New Guinean in wishing you the very best, both on and off the field, this season,” Weggeman said.
PNGRFL Chairman Sandis Tsaka acknowledged the invaluable support of SP Brewery and the SP PNG Hunters Board headed by Stan Joyce.
“We are grateful to SP Brewery for their continued support of the SP Hunters in the Intrust Super Cup competition since 2014,” Tsaka said. “This partnership has been extended until 2022.”
He acknowledged the work of Stan Joyce and the SP Hunters Board in ensuring the relocation process and their wellbeing in Queensland is smooth.
Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League a/CEO Stanley Hondina announced the appointment of former PNG Kumuls Paul Aiton as assistant coach of the SP Hunters for this season.
“Paul Aiton was Kumul No.214, a former captain represented PNG on 12 occasions and has more than 250 games experience at NRL and Super League level,” the Chairman said. “Paul is currently in Queensland and he will link with the team when they exit the isolation period.”
Meanwhile Hondina said the squad is scheduled to leave for Brisbane on Sunday January 31,2021.
“They will be based at Runaway Bay in Gold Coast,” Hondina said.
He said there were still many moving parts to the relocation exercise but “are comfortable with the progress thus far.”
He acknowledged the hard working team from QRL, DFAT, Australian High Commission, Home Affairs and QLD Government for their support in ensuring all processes and requirements are met.