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PNG Hunters name extended pre-season training squad

PNG Hunters coach Matthew Church has named a 37-man pre-season train-on squad in preparation for the 2021 Intrust Super Cup season.

The squad will assemble in Port Moresby this coming Sunday (November 29) for a month-long pre-season training camp where they will undergo medical and fitness tests on arrival.

The players will return to their homes on December 23 for the festive season with their families and head back into camp on January 3, 2021.

“We will be in a position by then to finalise the numbers we need in the final squad for the 2021 season,” Church said.

Digicel Cup grand finalists Kroton Hela Wigmen and Lae Snax Tigers have been rewarded for their strong form during the 2020 domestic season and both teams have eight players each in the Hunters squad.

Speaking at the launch earlier this month in Port Moresby, Church said he was looking forward to “reuniting with everyone” and would finalise squad numbers once the players returned to training in January.

While the squad features a number of familiar faces who have established themselves in the Intrust Super Cup and beyond like Edene Gebbie, Terry Wapi, Stargroth Amean, Ase Boas and Ila Alu; Church has also included many fresh faces who will be pushing for their chance to make their Hunters debut.

“I have named a number of young guys in the squad, it is essentially a transitional period, a lot of those guys I have named are probably getting closer to the end of their careers than they are to the start, so it is about a transferring of leadership to some younger guys," Church said at the media conference. 

“Also, from my background in rugby league and development systems, I know that the younger you can expose them to Cup, the more likely an NRL club is going to pick them up.

“We have to continue that as a pathway; the Hunters progressing to those higher and elite level programs.”

The PNG Hunters train-on squad (in Digicel Cup groupings):

Hela Wigmen: Solo Wane, Samuel Yegip, Jeffrey Robert, Valentine Culligan, Norman Brown, Gilmo Paul, Judah Rimbu, Solomon Pokari

Lae Snax Tigers: Edene Gebbie, Joe Joshua, Jokedi Bire, Charlie Simon, Junior Rop, Mark Pitti, Sylvester Namo, Edwin Ipape

Rabaul Agmark Gurias: Terry Wapi, Jordan Pat, Ila Alu, Stanley Olo, Wartovo Puara jr, Epel Kapinias

Port Moresby Vipers: Stargroth Amean, Keven Appo, Brendon Gotuno, Ase Boas, Enoch Maki

Enga Mioks: Sunny Lipu, Rhadley Brawa, Kennedy Ben

Mendi Muruks: Junior Rau, Stanton Albert

Waghi Tumbe: Emmanuel Waine, Casey Dickson

Gulf Isou: Rieko Jimmy

Lahanis: Brendan Nima  

Kimbe Cutters: Benji Kot