SP PNG Hunters coach Stanley Tepend says preseason squad member and Lae Tigers fullback Sanny Wabo deserves his spot in the Hostplus Cup team.
Tepend responded to critics saying there was no nepotism in the Hunters selection processes and every player had made the team strictly on merit.
He said Wabo was an experienced fullback in the Digicel Cup and replaced PNG Kumul Edene Gebbie, who left the Hunters preseason training prematurely.
Wabo was named in the Hunters’ initial 40-man pre-season squad in December but took up another deal with a third-tier club in the Sunshine Coast Rugby League.
However, the deal didn’t work out and Wabo was recalled into the Hunters early last week where he started training with the side.
Tepend said Papua New Guinea international Gebbie, who showed interest to play for the Hunters in 2023, left the club halfway through preseason as he wanted to pursue a move to Australian competitions.
Tepend said Wabo was available and Hunters needed another fullback alongside Morea Morea Jr.
“The Hunters always pick players on merit and I don’t think there is nepotism here,” Tepend said.
“Sanny Wabo deserves to be here. We had fullback Edene Gebbie who was with us at the start of preseason but we had an issue with him.
“I think Edene is trying to look for other opportunities in Australia and he left us after Christmas.
“Obviously we have Morea Morea Jr who is another fullback in the squad but we had to bring in one more fullback so Sanny is there to give a bit more push to Morea.
“People will always say Sanny was picked because he played for a club where I come from (Lae Tigers) but that is not the reason why he is here.
“Sanny deserves his spot just like the rest of the players who have been selected. But people always have something to say and they have the right to their opinion”
Wabo had been part of 2021 and 2022 Hunters preseason but failed to make the cut.
The two-time Digicel Cup premiership winner will be looking to make the final 25-man squad for 2023 in his third pre-season.
The National / PNG Hunters News
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