But the SP PNG Hunters believe they have enough firepower to continue their impressive run against Ipswich Jets in their Queensland Intrust Super Cup round six match today.
Coach Michael Marum and his coaching staff did not want to risk their strike centre, leaving him out of today’s game so that he can recover fully as it is a long season where his services would be needed.
The Hunters flew out of Port Moresby yesterday for the match at the North Ipswich Reserve, Brisbane at 2pm, which is expected to draw a bumper crowd – with a strong PNG community presence likely as has been the case in the two away games played so far.
After a come-from-behind 20-20 draw against Easts Tigers last week, the Hunters will be hoping to dictate the terms to avoid giving their fast-growing fan base anxious moments like the round five game.
Captain Israel Eliab has been shifted to centre with Dion Aiye who came off the bench last week to slot in at five-eighth.
The Hunters have three wins, one draw and a loss from five matches, which has them currently in fourth place with 7 points on the ISC points ladder.
Another change is Essau Siune returning to the side to partner Mark Mexico in the front row. Noel Zemming and Adam Korave are also late withdrawals due to injury with Noel Joel and Joe Bruno replacing them in the 17. Edward Goma travels as 18th Man.
Mexico, who plays his third game back from a minor surgery, is slowly regaining his confidence and this might be the game he could blast out of the blocks.
In his absence Timothy Lomai filled in at prop and the lanky former martial artist is expected to play another prominent role in the second row together with roving David Loko, who is dangerous when he chimes in the backline.
Lock Sebastine Pandia has very good ball playing skills, as displayed during last week when despite being wrapped up he slipped away a beauty to hooker Wartovo Puara for a try, and will be looking for another big game.
Hunters’ “super sub” Willie Minoga, off the bench is proving to be a crowd favorite and his fearless running at the defence should keep them entertained throughout.
The Jets are very dangerous in attack with Marmin Barba, a younger sibling of Broncos’ Ben Barba, equally a try-scoring machine.
He scored two tries last week and together with fullback Wes Conlon love to cross the white line so Marum would have focused heavily on defence this week to thwart the Jets attacking machine.
A former Kumul Rod Griffin, at prop for the Jets has also vowed to spoil the Hunters unbeaten away record and the game will be decided by the team that holds up in defence.
The game will be telecast live to PNG on Hitron and Channel 8 at 2pm and carried on EMTV at 7pm.
The Hunters line-up:
1. Adex Wera
2. Garry Lo
3. Israel Eliab ©
4. Albert Patak
5. George Benson
6. Dion Aiye
7. Roger Laka
8. Mark Mexico
9. Wartovo Puara
10. Essau Siune
11. David Loko
12. Timothy Lomai
13. Sebastian Pandia
14. Noel Joel
15. Willie Minoga
16. Lawrence Tu’u
18. Joe Bruno
19. Edward Goma (18th man)
Coach: Michael Marum