Santos PNG Orchids head coach Ben Jeffries has named a 34-player train-on squad for this year’s Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) campaign. The team’s final selection trial will be in August.
The group features top performers from the recent PNG Women’s Tri-Series that took place in Port Moresby on 9th-10th July, as well Australian-based players who have been monitored by coaching staff throughout 2022 and have taken part in several elite pathway programs.
The 34 women will gather in Port Moresby next month for an internal Santos PNG Orchids trial match, where final selections for the 23-player RLWC squad will be made.
The train-on squad features several returning Orchids players from RLWC 2017 and the 2019 victory over England, as well as a host of potential debutants.
Jeffries said: “I have been really impressed by the standard of talent we have available to us both in PNG and Australia.
Although I was unable to attend the PNG Women’s Tri-Series due to unforeseen circumstances, I watched videos of all the matches and addressed the players several times during their camp. I am really excited to see our PNG and Australian-based talent come together in August’s trial
match and begin the World Cup journey.”
The 34-player train-on squad is as follows (alphabetical by first name):
1. ANGELENA WATEGO - WYNNUM (QRLW)
2. ANIKA BUTLER KNIGHTS - (Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership)
3. BELINDA GWASAMUN - HIGHLANDS CONFEDERATE (PNG)
4. BERTSHIBA AWOI - SOUTHERN CONFEDERATE (PNG)
5. CAROL HUMEU - SOUTHERN CONFEDERATE (PNG)
6. DELAILAH AHOSE - HIGHLANDS CONFEDERATE (PNG)
7. ELIZABETH KAPA - SOUTHERN CONFEDERATE (PNG)
8. EMILY VEIVERS - TIGERS (QRLW)
9. ESSAY BANU WYNNUM - (QRLW)
10. GEMMA SCHNAUBELT - SOUTHS (QRLW)
11. GLORIA KAUPA - HIGHLANDS CONFEDERATE (PNG)
12. JANET JOHN - SOUTHERN CONFEDERATE (PNG)
13. JANET MICHAEL - SOUTHERN CONFEDERATE (PNG)
14. JESSICA CAREY - TIGERS (QRLW)
15. JESSIKAH REEVES - SOUTHS (QRLW)
16. JOANNE LAGONA - SOUTHERN CONFEDERATE (PNG)
17. LAYNA NONA-BUSCH - RABBITOHS (Western Australia)
18. LEILAH KEROWA - SOUTHERN CONFEDERATE (PNG)
19. LYDIA LUKE - NORTHERN CONFEERATE (PNG)
20. LILA MALABAG - SOUTHERN CONFEDERATE (PNG)
21. LISA-MARIE ALU - HIGHLANDS CONFEDERATE (PNG)
22. LYIANNAH ALLEEN - HIGHLANDS CONFEDERATE (PNG)
23. MARTHA MOLOWIA - SOUTHERN CONFEDERATE (PNG)
24. MELI JOE - HIGHLANDS CONFEDERATE (PNG)
25. MICHELLE JOHN IKUPU - NORTHERN CONFEDERATE (PNG)
26. REGILA WILFRED - HIGHLANDS CONFEDERATE (PNG)
27. ROSWITA KAPO - SOUTHERN CONFEDERATE (PNG)
28. SERA KOROI - SOUTHS (QRLW)
29. SHELLIE LONG - TIGERS (QRLW)
30. SHIRLEY JOE - NORTHERN CONFEDERATE (PNG)
31. TALITHA KUNJIL - HIGHLANDS CONFEDERATE (PNG)
32. THERESE AITON - SOUTHS (Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership)
33. UA RAVU - BULLS (NSW Championship)
34. VERONICA WAULA - SOUTHERN CONFEDERATE (PNG)
Five players are unable to attend the trial match in August due to personal circumstances but remain in contention to make the final Santos PNG Orchids squad. They are:
1. ELSIE ALBERT - DRAGONS (NRLW)
2. TARA MOXON - LEEDS (UK Super League)
3. SAREKA MOOKA - NORTH QUEENSLAND (QRLW)
4. LA-TONIYA NORRIS - WYNNUM (QRLW)
5. SHAE-YVONNE DE LA CRUZ - SOUTHS (QRLW)
Santos PNG Orchids Chairlady Okaro Yogi said, “I am excited with the selection because it is a good mix of debutants and returning Orchids players who came from the four confederates across PNG which includes our overseas based players.”
“I would also like to thank those ladies who didn’t make this list that they are winners too.”
“Last but not the least is our acknowledgement to our sponsors for their continuous support,” she said.
Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League (PNGRFL) Chief Executive Officer Stanley Hondina, speaking on behalf of the PNGRFL Board and Management, congratulated the women for making the list for selections and wished them well.
“I would like to extend our appreciation to the head coach and his coaching team for the efforts put in to get to this point. With the challenge of covid and others, you (Jeffries) managed to put together a team that’s appreciated,” Mr Hondina said.
“The concept that was put in place has been fair and every PNG girl has been given an opportunity to be selected, and with this trial which includes the overseas girls, assists us not only to get a balanced team but also a quality one,” he further added.
“We stand committed behind the team with all our partners in Santos, Digicel, National Gaming Control Board and PacificAus Sports to see this event through and wish the coaching staff the best in picking our PNG Orchids to attend the Prime Minister’s XIII challenge and the RLWC in October.”