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Yei feeling at home at new club Capras

Whilst most of the new faces at Central Queensland Capras this season don’t have much Intrust Super Cup experience, one who does is forward Mckenzie Yei, who moved over from the PNG Hunters.

A second rower with 35 games under his belt in two seasons with the Papua New Guinea side, Yei said while it was a big move to come and play with an Australian-based team, the Capras had made him feel welcomed. 

“The Capras are a new environment and I have settled in the new environment with the boys,” Yei said after making his first appearance for the club.

“I arrived back in December. I kind of miss home, but the boys are good.

“The pre-season was good, getting to know everybody, the boys are open and I feel at home.

“It really is a big move, but the boys made me feel at home and the coaching staff treat me well and I feel at home.”

The side faced off against a strong Tigers outfit that featured former Capra Bill Cullen. The Tigers squad also includes Aaron Pene, who signed a development contract with the Melbourne Storm mid-way through last season in their squad.

Another player who stood out with his performances with the Capras in 2019 to earn the attention of an NRL club was BJ Aufaga To’omaga.

The centre moved to the Redcliffe Dolphins in the off-season and also trained with the Brisbane Broncos, featuring in their pre-season trial matches.

Two former Capras BJ Aufaga To’omaga (centre) and Aaron Pene (right) with Tigers back Isaac Lumelume after the Round 1 Tigers v Capras match. Photo: Mel Tabet / QRL
Two former Capras BJ Aufaga To’omaga (centre) and Aaron Pene (right) with Tigers back Isaac Lumelume after the Round 1 Tigers v Capras match. Photo: Mel Tabet / QRL

As the club, the Capras have looked to promote their young talent into their senior squad this season, with five players from their Under 20 squad listed as gains for in 2020, with five-eighth Blake Moore featuring in their opening round game against the Tigers.

On their Round 1 loss, Yei said he was keen to get back into training to reset their focus on their next match against the Ipswich Jets.

“Obviously, we didn’t want this result,” Yei said. “(But) it’s good to be playing again after a lot of training.

“We will go back and work on coming out stronger next week.”

Central Queensland Capras gains and losses

Gains

Mckenzie Yei (Papua New Guinea Hunters), Radean Robinson (Brisbane Rugby League), Connor Rothery (Northern Pride),  Harrison Leonard (Western Suburbs Magpies), Jack Gibbons (Western Suburbs Magpies), Kurt Atkinson (Helensburgh Tigers), Honeti Tuha (Cabramatta), Maika Tudravu (Fiji Rugby League), Joel Holdsworth (Collegians RLFC), Jacob Esau (Wentworthville Magpies), Jack Pattie (Capras Under 20), Zantanamaud Pomare (Capras Under 20), Christian Smith (Capras Under 20), Blake Moore (Capras Under 20), Wes Sisifa (Capras Under 20)

Losses

BJ Aufaga To’omaga (Redcliffe Dolphins), Eddy Pettybourne (Toulouse), Aaron Pene (Melbourne Storm), Elijah Anderson (North Queensland Cowboys), Bill Cullen (Easts Tigers), Jamie Hill (Tweed Seagulls), Billy Gilbert (local league), David Taylor (retired), Matt Wright (released), Maipele Morseu (released), Junior Kirisome (released)

2020 gains and losses