The SP PNG Hunters have announced a strategic pathways partnership with the Dolphins NRL franchise that will include participation in a full NRL pre-season for four young Papua New Guinean players.
This agreement will provide a genuine pathway for Papua New Guinean rugby league players beginning in the Digicel Cup, through to the Hunters and right into an NRL system.
The partnership is in alignment with the Hunters’ strategic plan to develop more Papua New Guinean players into the NRL competition by 2025.
Under the agreement, four Hunters’ players will attend a full pre-season with the Dolphins NRL squad, starting in 2023.
COACH Matthew Church wants his SP Hunters to start well when they host Brisbane Tigers in round three of the Hostplus Cup at Bycroft Oval on the Gold Coast on Sunday (2.10pm kick-off).
Church told The National yesterday that changes to the line-up were necessary after a poor start in their 16-26 loss to hosts Central Queensland Capras at Browne Park in Rockhampton.
The PNG Hunters have kicked off the 2022 Hostplus Cup season with a tough 16-10 win over the Mackay Cutters at BB Print Stadium in Mackay.
The Hunters enjoyed an excellent start, getting through their opening set before strong contact in defence forced the Cutters into an error with their first possession.
Starting props Casey Dickson and Sylvester Namo consistently bent the line with their carries to open the game and Mackay had no answer. Left-edge backrower Benji Kott came awfully close to crashing over the line after collecting a late offload before the Hunters forced yet another error in Mackay’s half. From the attacking scrum, right-centre Rodrick Tai summed things up smartly to put Solo Wane over in the corner for the opening try.
Dilbert Issac was next to score for the Hunters, crashing over under the posts courtesy of a lovely pass from Wesser Tenza at half.
Four to debut for SP PNG Hunters
MARK Tony, Roderick Tai, Wesser Tenza and Kingstimer Paraia have been named to make their Hostplus Cup debuts in the SP Hunters’ season-opener away at Mackay Cutters on Saturday (4.30pm kick-off).
Reigning Digicel Cup premiership-winning Lae Tigers playmaker Tony will partner youngster Judah Rimbu in the halves while Roderick Tai will combine with Gilmo Paul in the centre.
Mendi Muruks rake and skipper Tenza will start at dummy-half with goal-kicking talent Paraia expected to come off the bench in a one-two punch by coach Matthew Church.
Both sides have played 11 matches between them with the South Pacific Brewery-sponsored Hunters recording six wins, three loses and two draws.
The Hunters lost 30-40 in their last meeting despite leading 26-14 at halftime.
Meanwhile, Hunters co-captain Ila Alu underwent surgery last Monday on his fractured collar bone sustained during first trial match against Central Queensland Capras on March 5.
PAPUA New Guinea international and Brisbane Bronco David Mead has come out to speak up against online bullying of rugby league players in the country.
Recently, PNG Kumuls utility Edwin Ipape, who was signed by second-tier English club Leigh Centurions, fell victim to bullying because some fans were disputing his age.
Mead shared his experience when he was a victim himself in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup after the Kumuls lost 8-9 to France in their final pool match.
Fans blamed the former Gold Coast Titan and Catalans Dragon for a missing a conversion that cost PNG the game.
“When I missed that conversion that was going to win the match back in 2013, that was when I experienced online bullying at its highest,” the Tubusereia native, from Central, told The National on Sunday.
“There were terrible things said about me.
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