Church To Announce Team Soon

With two weeks left before the SP PNG Hunters travel back to Queensland, the process of finalizing the squad for the 2022 HostPlus Cup has started.

Coach, Mathew Church has emphasized to the team on getting their mindset right with good attitude towards training sessions and putting the team first.

He said since the preseason started a number of returning Hunters have been terminated or released for compromising the team’s culture.

Church has also brought in a number of outstanding players from the 2021 Digicel Cup competition for experience and direction.

For clarity on recalling Tigers players Casey Dickson and Junior Rop back into training camp, Church said Dickson missed out last year due to not providing proper identification to enter Australia and was never released on disciplinary reason.

On Junior Rop’s case, Church said he had COIVD protocol issues before he was released last year although had some disciplinary issues in previous years but this time under his watch junior is quite aware of the consequences and working really hard to be a better player.

Coach Church is impressed with the attitude and enthusiasm of veteran and hooker of the year Weza Tenza for his dummy half play and young second‐rower of the year, Nelson Yei.

After returning from the Christmas‐New Year break, Church is quite happy and content with the current mixture of experience and new players who are jelling well and competing to make the final cut.

At today’s Hunters media session, he confirmed that the process of finalizing the 26‐man squad will be announced on the PNG Hunters Launch Night scheduled on 26 January.

Church clarified that players will be judged and picked on merit according to set standards and rules. He also justified the importance and value of bringing in a number of older players from previous Hunters preseason camps and their role in the team.

On the issue of Epel Kapinias for not living up to set team standards and rules, the coach said it was a big letdown for the young NRL prospect.

“Epel had some stuff to work on in terms of putting the team first otherwise he chose to put himself first on a number of occasions which is unfortunate for him, because he’s highly talented and was getting scouted by an NRL club last year but now he’s done himself no favours,” Church said.

He said the final 26‐man squad is scheduled to travel to Queensland on 28 January to prepare for their two preseason trial matches against the Fiji Silktails and CQ Capras in late February and early March, before the Host Plus Cup competition kicks off on 19‐20 March.

Terry Longbut