At the start of the 2023 Hostplus Cup season, PNG Hunters head of football operations Tommy Butterfield flagged fullback Morea Morea as someone to watch. And he was not wrong.
Morea, the Hostplus Cup Rookie of the Year, scored 11 tries and kicked nine goals across 20 appearances, and finished the year averaging 104 run metres per game and with 13 try assists, 83 tackle breaks and 10 line breaks.
The 22-year-old said it felt special to win Rookie of the Year, adding he did not expect it, and he had high hopes for next year's Cup season.
“I just put the work in during the pre-season and came out and tried my best… just turned out," Morea said, adding he was not used to the attention playing rugby league for the Hunters brought.
“There’s a lot of fans in PNG... I’m not used to it. But we had a really special team. We did well this year… just too bad we didn’t make the finals.
“I just want to take my footy to the next level now... concentrate on the pre-season and get myself fit for next year."
Butterfield said Morea, last year's Digicel Cup player of the year, was "something special".
“What a year… I think people don’t realise where he’s come from… there’s no real coaching background in his skills and what he’s shown on the field this year is unbelievable," Butterfield said.
“For us, we saw from Digicel Cup, as last year’s player of the year, and in training, what he could offer. I gave a tip to the commentators in the first game and wow, what a year. Just great to see him finish with the award."
Butterfield said what made the win extra special was receiving it on Papua New Guinea's Independence weekend.
“For us, it's 48 years and for a Papua New Guinean to win the rookie of the year in Queensland's biggest competition is pretty good for our country…. you know, he's representing a lot of people from his province and his village," Butterfield said.
“What a year and it's great to have him here… hopefully he's pushing for bigger and better things, for himself and for his people next year.”