DIGICEL Cup premiers Lae Tigers have contributed half of the 12 new faces in the SP Hunters train-on squad announced on Friday. Runners-up Waghi Tumbe and Rabaul Gurias have supplied two players each.
Out of the 12 Digicel Cup teams, only the Tigers, Tumbe, Gurias, Hela Wigmen and Kimbe Cutters contributed at least one player to the 2017 Queensland Intrust Super Cup champions.
“The players we chose were picked for their suitability and how we wanted to play our game.
“There is no favouritism; I’ve got no allegiance to any club.
“I chose purely on how they will suit the Hunters. The new faces are Jesse Matthew, Francis Kembis (Tumbe), Nathan Tente, Liam Joseph (Gurias), Roderick Tai, Mark Tony, Jamie Mavoko, Casey Dickson, Kitron Laka, Sherwin Tanabi (Tigers), Valentine Culligan (Wigmen), Tony Worrot (Cutters).
Church said a final 26-man squad would be announced in February before they relocated again to Runaway Bay on the Gold Coast.Meanwhile, he said premiership-winning Hunters trio Ase Boas, Enock Maki and Stanton Albert will not be part of the 2022 squad for varying reasons.
Church said playmaker Boas would not be fit for the South Pacific Brewery-sponsored team’s ninth Cup season as the veteran, who would turn 33 on Boxing Day, had been battling a niggling injury in recent years.
He said 31-year-old Maki had called time on his colourful rugby league career in which the Papua New Guinea Kumuls prop scored five tries across 99 Cup appearances since 2015.
“I want to make it clear that the trio were not dropped,” Church said.
“I had a discussion with Maki about his body and he chose to retire.“After I talking to him, that was what he wanted and he handled that quite gracefully.
“Boas probably wouldn’t meet medical qualifications and it was his own choice. Albert has some personal issues. “We understand that his dad is unwell and they are trying to get him to surgery and he has other things to focus on.
“He was offered to return, but he chose not to and we respect that.”
Squad: Jesse Matthew, Francis Kembis, Nathan Tente, Liam Joseph, Roderick Tai, Mark Tony, Jamie Mavoko, Casey Dickson, Kitron Laka, Sherwin Tanabi, Valentine Culligan, Tony Worrot, Terry Wapi, Solo Wane, Brandon Nima, Gilmo Paul, Judah Rimbu, Ila Alu, Samuel Yegip, Sylvester Namo, Dilbert Isaac, Jordan Pat, Keven Appo, Emmanuel Waine, Wartovo Puara Jr, Norman Brown, Brendon Gotuno, Junior Rau, Benji Kot, Epel Kapinias, Solomon Pokare, Edwin Ipape.
Statement / The National / PNG Hunters News
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