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).
Hunters coach Matt Church has today unveiled the squad which features 20 players from the 2021 group that produced moments of brilliance during a testing season while based in Queensland.
Last season’s captain Ila Alu and vice-captain Keven Appo have been named in the squad along with the Hunters’ most capped player in veteran hooker Wartovo Puara Jnr. Samuel Yegip, Edwin Ipape, Sylvester Namo and Benji Kot are among the 2021 rookies back in contention for a second season in Queensland, where the Hunters will be based due to the ongoing uncertainty over travel due to Covid-19.
And six players from Digicel Cup champions Lae Snax Tigers will join their coach Stanley Tepend – now a Hunters assistant coach – among 12 new players to the Hunters squad.
The squad will be trimmed to 26 players in January before the Hunters leave for Queensland.
SP PNG Hunters have re-appointed Matt Church as coach for the 2022 Intrust Super Cup season.
The Hunters board voted unanimously for Church to remain at the helm for next season after he steered the team through the challenges of 2021 when it was forced to relocate to southeast Queensland due to Covid travel restrictions.
The Hunters have confirmed that the team will return to Queensland throughout 2022 due to the ongoing international Covid travel challenges.
“We are delighted to reappoint Matt Church given how he and his staff handled a difficult year,” Hunters Chairman Mr Stan Joyce CSM said.
“The Hunters played extremely well in parts of this season and we know what the team is capable of with the 2021 experience under their belts. Matt is a high-quality coach and he has put in place the building blocks for an exciting 2022.”
Yesterday I farewelled my PNG family as they all returned home after sacrificing 7 months to relocate to Qld for the Intrust Super cup season.
Throughout what was no doubt a challenging year for them all. There has been many comparisons made with the NZ Warriors or the other NRL clubs now also relocated in Qld. I understand the comparison but we are talking apples and oranges.
The reality is that they aren’t comparable at all really. There is monumental differences, the culture change, the pay scale, no family and no lush hotels….. as well as many other little luxuries.
SP PNG Hunters head to Maryborough on Saturday determined to again push Intrust Super Cup heavyweights Wynnum Manly Seagulls to the brink after their thrilling clash to open the season.
The Seagulls won their first nine matches in 2021, with their smallest winning margin a 20-18 victory against the Hunters in Round 1. The Seagulls have since lost their past three games while their Brisbane Broncos-contracted players have been unavailable because of the NRL’s Covid bubble.
Wynnum’s recent form, and the Hunters’ memory of striking back from a 12-point deficit against them in Round 1, will give Matt Church’s outfit the confidence they are capable of an upset if they can find more consistency over 80 minutes.
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2022 Results, Draw and Ladder
SP PNG Hunters 16 Mackay Cutters 10
Mackay Cutters vs SP PNG Hunters
ISC Ladder after Round 6
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