The match goes down in Atherton far North Queensland.
The PNG Hunters are currently on their longest ever losing streak with eight straight losses since entering the Queensland Cup in 2014.
Pride aren’t flying high either at the moment, losing their last two games.
Hunters see a silver lining in this season away from home as they head on their longest road trip of the year, starting with a two-hour flight to Cairns before transferring to a bus for a 90-minute drive to Atherton for the Intrust Super Cup Country Week clash.
It’s an unusual trip but that’s been the theme of a season that has thrown up more challenges than expected for the Hunters, who remain in camp on the northern end of the Gold Coast because of Covid restrictions.
Coach Matt Church said the Hunters were learning valuable lessons for the ISC’s eventual return to a normal home-and-away format when the Covid situation eases.
Church said, “We are developing a core of young players that should be there for quite a few years and they will benefit from the experiences of this season.”
The clash in Atherton will be another good test for the Hunters, who have won five of their previous 11 matches against the Pride. The Pride are coming off two consecutive losses which has left them on the edge of the top eight and they will again be without their Cowboys-contracted players who remain in the NRL’s Covid bubble.
Church added, “They’re a big, physical team so we know what we’ll be up against.”
The Country Week matches traditionally draw strong crowds to Queensland’s regional towns with a welcoming dinner and coaching clinics as part of each visit.
The Hunters drew Easts Tigers 38-all in their last Country Week appearance at Aipus Oval, Wabag in 2019.
Church said he was pleased with the Hunters’ progress on the training field as the team welcomes back second-rowers Keven Appo from injury and Emmanuel Waine from suspension for this weekend. Centre Joe Joshua (knee) and second-rower Sylvester Namo (sprained hand) are unavailable after suffering injuries in last weekend’s loss to Sunshine Coast.
The SP PNG Hunters to play Northern Pride at Atherton JRL Grounds, Atherton on Saturday July 17 at 5.30pm (LIVE & EXCLUSIVE TVWAN).
SP PNG HUNTERS: 1. Terri Wapi 2. Junior Rau. 3.Brandon Nima. 4. Benji Kot. 5. Brandon Gutono. 6. Ase Boas. 7 Charlie Simon. 8. Stanton Albert. 9. Wartovo Puara Jnr. 10. Enock Maki 11. Emmanuel Waine. 12. Keven Appo. 13. Ila Alu (capt). Interchange: 14. Judah Rimbu. 15. Dilbert Isaac. 16. Mark Piti 17. Samuel Yegip. 18. Solo Wane
NORTHERN PRIDE: 1. Jayden Corrigan. 2. Shawn Bowen. 3. Grant Anderson. 4. Evan Child. 5. Bernard Lewis. 6. Tom Steadman. 7. Matthew Egan. 8. Nick Lui-Toso. 9. Jayden Hodges. 10. Rod Griffin. 11. Joshua Stuckey. 12. Ewan Moore. 13. Terrence Casey-Douglas.Interchange: 14. Denzel King. 15. Kenneth Fonoti. 16. Lata Fakalelu. 17. Paea Pua.