Feisty hooker Gahuna Silas is set to start his first game in the number nine jersey, with Warren Glare battling a lower back injury despite being named on the bench. Fullback Bland Abavu and centre Justin Olam return from one-game suspensions while Wartovo Puara Jr replaces the under-performing Watson Boas at halfback for the round 24 fixture against the fifth-placed Falcons at the National Football Stadium.
Stargroth Amean shifts to the wing from fullback after Philemon Kimisive was handed a one-match ban by the Queensland Rugby League judiciary for a shoulder charge on Javid Bowen in the Hunters’ disappointing 40-16 loss to the eighth-placed Northern Pride last week in Cairns.
Edward Goma retruns to the bench after one match in the centres.
Having dropped their last two matches Marum said it was crucial his side regained some momentum heading into the finals.
“It’s important that we have some mometum going into the finals,” Marum said.
“We have to build that mometum and carry it through and it starts this weekend against the Falcons.”
Marum is walking a tight rope needing his side to get the win over the Falcons, who beat them 28-20 on the Gold Coast back in Round 4, as well as allowing several returning players ample game time to reach match fitness.
Prop Henry Wan, who last played in Round 16, has been included on the bench after an extended period out.
His size and undoubted metre-gaining ability will prove crucial in the finals with Marum saying he had no choice but to play Wan in order for the 105kg front-rower to gain vaulable match fitness.
Back-rower Nickson Borana has also been given a starting berth ahead of co-captain Adam Korave with Marum looking to give more members of his squad time on the field.
Utility Atte Bina Wabo, 30, has been suspended indefinitely by club management after breaking team protocol for a second time in as many weeks.
SP PNG Hunters: 1. Bland Abavu, 2. Butler Morris, 3. Noel Zeming (C), 4. Justin Olam, 5. Stargroth Amean, 6. Ase Boas, 7. Wartovo Puara Junior, 8. Enock Maki, 9. Gahuna Silas, 10. Esau Siune, 11. Timothy Lomai, 12. Nickson Borana, 13. Brandy Peter; Reserves: 4. Warren Glare, 15. Adam Korave (C), 16. Heny Wan Noki, 17. Edward Goma, 18. Benjamin Hetra, 19. Watson Boas (two to be omitted).