Exciting wingers Tuvi Lepan, Justin Olam and Philemon Kimisive will add pace and power to the Hunters flanks, while nippy hooker-utility Silas Gahuna and half Watson Boas will back up incumbents Wartovo Puara Jr and Ase Boas. Three-quarter Anderson Benford is the other back.
Hela Wigmen prop Benji Hetra and backrower Ishamel Balkawa are the new forwards.
The two questions that need to be answered ahead of the South Pacific Brewery-sponsored side’s opening match against the Souths Logan Magpies on March 5 are who will captain the side and who will get the first crack at securing the five-eighth role that former captain Israel Eliab made his own over the club’s first two seasons.
“With the squad getting back together this week, our focus will be to get match-ready over the next four weeks, ahead of our only pre-season game against the Penrith Panthers NSW Cup side on Feb 6,” Marum said.
“We’ve got a good mix of experienced players and the new guys coming in are set for the challenge.
“Obviously, we want to make the finals again this year but it’s going to be tough.” Marum would not commit to naming a successor to Eliab but offered a few names he would be relying on to lead the side into its third season.
“We’ll have co-captains in 2016 from the senior group of players.
“We’ve got fellows like Wartovo Puara, Noel Zeming and Adam Korave, who will be looked at to lead the side.”
The 41-year-old, who was the ISC coach of the year in 2015, said there were several options available for the second play-maker’s spot with Ase Boas, brother Watson, Zeming and Ate Bina Wabo the men to be considered for five-eighth. “We’ll make that decision after our trial match against Penrith next month,” Marum said.
He said the team’s captains would be announced during the club’s official launching on Feb 13.
The Hunters will continue to occupy the Institute of Public Administration accommodation facility for the time being while their board and the PNGRFL work to have a permanent base set up.
They will use the city’s fields and training facilities (subject to availability), including the Sir John Guise Stadium, Bisini and the High Performance Training Centre.
Marum said his only concern with relocating to the nation’s capital was that there would more distractions for the players in the city.
“We’ll still be settling in over the next three or four weeks but hopefully we’ll be right by March.
Squad: Stargroth Amean, Bland Abavu, Ishmael Balkawa, Anderson Benford, Ase Boas, Watson Boas, Nixon Borana, Sailas Gahuna, Warren Glare, Edward Goma, Benjamin Hetra, Philemon Kimisive, Adam Korave, Tuvi Lepan, Timothy Lomai, Enoch Maki, Justin Olam, Brandy Peter, Wartovo Puara Jr, Esau Siune, Thompson Teteh, Henry Wan, Ate Bina Wabo, Adex Wera, Noel Zeming; William Aquila, Konnie Bernard, Simon Peter, John Ragi Jr.