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.
The replacement of Boas, the influential 70-game veteran who has played nine times for the Kumuls, is the only other forced change in the Hunters’ line-up. Doncaster allowed Boas, who impressed during his 2019 stint with Featherstone Rovers, to delay his departure by a week so that he could play against the Bears.
Boas then left for England before last weekend’s bye.
Rimbu played 70 minutes against the Bears and has benefited from time in camp with the Hunters squad and valuable time with Boas in preparation for the veteran’s departure.
Playing for Digicel Cup premiers Hela Wigmen, Rimbu was last season’s rookie of the year.
While Boas and Ipape join an absentee list that also includes winger Brendon Gotuno (fractured forearm), Enock Maki (knee) and Joe Joshua (knee), Church believes he has the depth in the side to continue the Hunters’ consistency and enthusiasm which has delivered three wins from five games in 2021.
The two losses came against the reigning grand finalists, including a brave 18-20 loss to Wynnum Manly in the opening match of the season.
The Hunters are confident that hooker Wartovo Puara Jr, who will reclaim the Hunters’ appearance record with his next match, will be fit to resume after missing the Bears clash due to an ankle injury.
Puara and prop Epel Kapinias (ankle) will have to pass fitness tests to take their place on Sunday while the medical team are closely watching the hamstring injury of in-form fullback Terry Wapi which was suffered in the last round.
“When you’re faced by relocation, you’re always going to have challenges and that’s been the case in the past few weeks,” Church said.
“Sure, it’s a bit of a struggle, in saying that we’ve got a number of players due back from injury in the next few weeks and I’m quite confident we’ll get through this tough period and have a lot more selection choices.
“The squad have shown plenty of character. We’ve won three games, lost a couple of games which have been in the balance until the last few minutes and we can’t fault their application and attitude to the challenges placed before them and I see no reason why that won’t continue.”
The Hunters enter Sunday’s match in fourth place while the Tigers are ninth after two wins from their opening five matches.
Hunters: Terry Wapi, Junior Rau, Brandon Nima, Jokadi Bire, Norman Brown, Judah Rimbu, Charlie Simon, Epel Kapinias, Wartovo Puara Jr, Samuel Yegip, Benji Kot, Keven Appo, Ila Alu (captain); Interchange — Sylvester Namo, Emmanuel Waine, Mark Pitti, Jeffery Robert.
Statement / PNG Hunters Photo
Next : PNG Hunters Top Performers After Round 5
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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