Thirty-four (34) eligible players will face off in a trial match on Saturday 13 August at the Santos National Football Stadium to assist with final squad selections.
Orchids coach, Ben Jeffries will travel from Australia to Papua New Guinea this week to observe training sessions and the match, which are being delivered by PNG-based Orchids staff and Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League (PNGRFL).
Initially, it was hoped that 10 Australia-based potential Orchids players would travel to PNG to participate in the trial match alongside their PNG-based counterparts, but this has been deferred in line with a recent decision by the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) to delay the SP PNG Hunters’ season return to Port Moresby.
Instead, Jeffries will continue to consider the selection claims of overseas-based players while having the chance to watch an additional 10 PNG-based players in Saturday’s clash.
“It’s unfortunate that our Australia-based cohort will be unable to travel for this match, but I have been fortunate to see many of them play live already whereas this will be the first opportunity for me to see some of our PNG-based cohort in action rather than just on video,” Jeffries said.
“For the additional 10 PNG-based players who have been promoted to the extended squad to play in this match, it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to stake their claim for selection.”
The 34 players that have been named in two teams, black and red, to contest Saturday’s match are as follows:
The 17 players based in Australia and the UK who are still being considered for the final
Santos PNG Orchids squad are (in alphabetical order): Angela Watego (Wynnum – QRLW), Anika Butler (Knights – NSW), Elsie Albert (Dragons – NRLW), Emily Veivers (Tigers – QRLW), Essay Banu (Wynnum – QRLW), Gemma Schnaubelt (Souths – QRLW), Jessica Carey (Tigers – QRLW), Jessikah Reeves (Souths – QRLW), Latoniya Norris (Wynnum – QRLW), Layna Nona- Busch (Rabbitohs – Western Australia), Sareka Mooka (Gold Stars – QRLW), Sera Koroi (Souths – QRLW), Shae Yvonne de la Cruz (Souths – QRLW), Shellie Long (Tigers – QRLW), Tara Moxon (Leeds – UK Super League), Therese Aiton (Rabbitohs – NSW), Ua Ravu (Bulls – NSW Country).
The final Santos PNG Orchids 23-player RLWC squad will be announced in late August.
PNGNRL that manages the semi-professional rugby league competition, the Digicel Cup, has allowed the Orchids’ trial match to be the curtain raiser to the Digicel Cup match on Saturday.
PNGNRL Competition Manager, Ora Gairo said, “I would like to congratulate all the Orchid squad members for making it this far, you have proved to be the best in this nation and I know you will do well this weekend.
“Congratulations to Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League CEO, Stanley Hondina, Orchids Chairlady, Ms Okaro, and Coach Jeffries for all the hard work involved in getting this team to this final selections game.”
"We have slotted the Orchids trial game for Saturday the 13th August at the Santos National Football Stadium with a Digicel Cup Match between the EPG Enga Mioks and the PRK Gulf Isou in Round 15 of the Digicel Cup competition,” he said.
“The Orchids’ game will be played at 12.30pm as the curtain raiser. The Digicel Cup will also have a women's competition in the near future which will be a pathway to the Orchids team," he further added.
PNGRFL CEO, Hondina expressed there was much excitement with the progress of the Orchids’ selections.
“We are excited to see this pathway coming to life and a fair chance is given to our girls to take part and make the national team,” he said.
“We wish them all the best and to learn as much as they can while in camp as it’s costing us a good investment to have these highly competitive coaching staff come in to assist and oversee the games.”
The Orchids would like to acknowledge the support of the Australian Government’s PacificAus Sports program in the hosting of this trial match as part of the #PNGAusPartnership.