PAPUA New Guinea-born Brisbane speedster Xavier Coates admits the appeal of being coached by Craig Bellamy looms large as he appears set to join the Red Hill exodus to link with Melbourne.
The Storm and Broncos declined to comment publicly on Coates’ future yesterday after reports had emerged he would commit to a two-year deal with the premiers.
Melbourne officials denied any deal had been signed with the 20-year-old, while Coates’ manager Nash Dawson said his client hasn’t “signed or agreed anywhere, or even made a decision yet”.
But Brisbane players were overheard at Wednesday’s training session joking with Coates about a prospective move to Melbourne after months of conjecture over his future.
Coates has ranked as one of the most in-demand players in the National Rugby League (NRL) with the Storm weighing in with a two or three-year offer for his services last month, Brisbane beefing up their own extension and the Titans also offering a three-year deal, as reported by NRL.com six weeks ago.
Bellamy is still yet to decide his own future beyond this season, with another stint as Storm coach or coaching director in 2022 the most likely scenario, followed by a step back from the NRL altogether.
SP Hunters utility Edwin Ipape will miss the next two Queensland Intrust Super Cup matches through suspension as coach Matthew Church’s men aim to rebound against Brisbane Tigers on Sunday (3pm kick-off).
The Papua New Guinea international was handed the ban for a dangerous tackle after the Hunters’ 18-25 Kokoda Cup loss to Burleigh Bears in round five at Pizzey Park on the Gold Coast last month.
Meanwhile, the Hunters have called on one of the country’s most exciting teenagers to wear the No.6 jersey for round six at Runaway Bay’s Bycroft Oval on the Gold Coast.
Judah Rimbu, who has played four games off the bench this season, will replace experienced playmaker Watson Boas who has returned to England to complete his contract with League One club Doncaster.
TOP PERFORMERS in the Hunters team.
Some of the top performers for the SP PNG Hunters after the first five rounds of the IntrustSuperCup
MELBOURNE Storm centre Justin Olam has challenged Digicel Cup franchises to establish development pathways for players into the country’s premier rugby league competition.
The former Lae Tiger addressed the coaches of all 12 Digicel Cup franchises from Melbourne last week.
Olam gave credit to the coaches for instilling a strong work ethic among semi-professional players.
SP Hunters coach Matthew Church says youngster Judah Rimbu will get first crack in the No.6 jersey following five-eighth Watson Boas’ departure to English third-tier club Doncaster.
“Boas’ departure opens the door for an opportunity in the halves,” he said in his weekly column in The National.
“We have used young Judah Rimbu sparingly in the first five rounds, looking for opportunities to play him in the halves.
“We managed to get him a few minutes against the Falcons a few weeks ago.
“While Judah has come on and played out of position, he has played up-tempo while remaining calm and measured.
“There’s a lot to like about this youngster, he will get the first opportunity to make that spot his own and I look forward to seeing him develop as a Hunter.”
Meanwhile, forward Stanton Albert and back Gilmo Paul — who stayed behind when the squad left for Australia in the pre-season — will join the Hunters at Runaway Bay on the Gold Coast in the coming weeks.
PNG Hunters News & Results
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2021 Results, Draw and Ladder
PNG Hunters 18 Wynnum Manly Seagulls 20
Hunters 44 IIpswich jets 22
PNG Hunters 26 Mackay Cutters 14
PNG Hunters 32 vs Gold Coast Falcons 12
PNG Hunters 18 vs Burleigh Bears 25
Brisbane Tigers 40 PNG Hunters 12
PNG Hunters v Wynnum Manly Seagulls
PNG Hunters V Ipswich Jets
PNG Hunters V Mackay Cutters
PNG Hunters vs Gold Coast Falcons
Burleigh Bears v PNG Hunters
PNG Hunters v Brisbane Tigers
South Logan Magpies v PNG Hunters
Redcliffe Dolphins v PNG Hunters
PNG Hunters v Townsville Blackhawks
PNG Hunters v Norths Devils
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