Having lost his last three matches (Rd 18 – Pride 36 Hunters 18; Rd 17 – Hunters 16 Tigers 22; Rd 16 – Cutters 20 Hunters 4) Marum is looking to change things up in his side that could be lacking some creativity and enthusiasm after 18 rounds of the Queensland Cup.
The most noteworthy has been the shifting of captain Israel Eliab from the centres to fullback – a straight swap with regular No.1 Adex Wera finding himself now in the unfamiliar centre position. This would be Eliab’s third position he has played for the South Pacific Brewery-sponsored team in their debut season.
But the 23-year-old has played five-eighth and centre so far this season and this weekend lines up against the Tweed Heads Seagulls at the back. Eliab has played a number of positions at Digicel Cup level and for the Kumuls and the Prime Minister’s XIII ranging from five-eighth, halfback, centre and fullback, so he is accustomed to being the utility. With regular centres Thompson Teteh and Albert Patak, although named in the reserves, still in doubt with injury, Marum has moved Jason Tali to the wing to support new centre Wera, who would be starting in that position for the first time at senior level.
Incidentally, Tali has, over the last two seasons in the domestic Digicel Cup competition, transitioned from the wing to the centres – he played in the centres for the Lae Tigers over the weekend.
Marum’s other positional changes include shifting wide-running backrower David Loko to prop to partner another unlikely selection Brandy Peter in the frontrow.
Esau Siune and Joe Bruno the squads other specialist props have been left out of the 19-man squad to travel to the Gold Coast this week.
Loko at 183-centimetres and 96-kilogrammes is big enough to to take the load but this would also be a first for the Southern Highlander who is more accustomed to playing on the fringes.
Completing the new front-row is Lawrence Tu’u, who has been used exclusively as a back-up dummy half and backrower so far this year, unseats one of the Hunters best performers in 24-year-old Wartovo Puara Junior in the hooking role.
Marum has surprisingly dropped to the bench one of the Q-Cup competition’s better dummy halves in the 24-year-old East New Briton.
Puara’s high quality service, dangerous running and option taking has been overlooked for Tu’u’s size and tackle-breaking ability.
In terms of go-forward, there is ample back up on the bench with props Timothy Lomai (who has made a miraculous recovery from a severe hand/arm injury to be named on the extended bench) and young tyro Stanton Albert, who at 19 years is a star of the future but lacks the experience presently to lead the pack. Willie Minoga is the other noted metre-gainer on the interchange while backs Patak, Teteh and Edward Goma are all part of the extended bench.
The Hunters are in sixth spot with 21 points with the Burleigh Bears behind them on 19 points followed by the Souths Logan Magpies, Norths Devils, Mackay Cutters all on 18 points.
Marum’s selection choices could back fire but he has the option of reverting to a conventional line-up on Sunday before the team runs out onto Piggabeen Sports Oval at 2pm in Tweed Heads West, Queensland.