Players clear the air

Ase Boas, PNG representative five-eight and former captain of the history-making PNG Hunters grand final team of 2017, has put out a joint media statement with other Hunters Enock Maki,

Stanton Albert and Brendon Gotuno, to clear the air on why they were dropped from the 2022 PNG Hunters team.

“Although we were not selected to be part of this year’s PNG Hunters season, we are appreciative of the current team, the management and especially Coach Matthew Church for your leadership and the vision you have for the team this year,” the statement read. “Being senior players and leaders in our own circles, we have come across questions regarding our absence from the team this year and so we wanted to assure our fans that whilst we remain physically and mentally fit, we also respect Coach Church and the PNG Hunters management decision and leadership.”

However, in response to an article published in the press on Tuesday 25 January 2022, the four players stated that the reasons given by Coach Church as to why they were dropped from the team, is not entirely correct.

Enock Maki stated, “Church had a discussion with me last year in Gold Coast seeking my views on whether I was considering retirement this year. I had told him that I wanted to give it my last shot with my eyes on the upcoming World Cup. With Church saying in the news article that I had agreed to retire, are not my words.”

“The newspaper article stated that I was offered to return to the Hunters this year but chose not to due to personal issues. This statement is false and misleading,” said Stanton Albert.

Brendon Gotuno stated, “Whilst I understand that he (Coach Church) wanted me to push a little harder during the first week of training, he had forgotten (that) I had just got back from a grade two hamstring injury after round 12 last season. The medic advised me to rest due to the nature of the injury and undergo rehab. Just 4 days into training and (Coach Church) told me I was overweight and unfit. I play the wing position and the weight range for any winger is 82-90kg.My current weight is 87kg. I don’t see this as a justified reason.”

Boas added, “I want to know why Coach Church made the claim that I would not be fit for this season. Yes I’ve turned 33 but I know and trust my body and I can confidently say am one hundred per cent physically and mentally fit. I also would like to know where Coach Church got his information (from) to bluntly say (to) media that I have been battling niggling injury in recent years. I’ve never discussed this information with him nor given him consent to say such. This is unacceptable for him to publicly make that claim.”

Boas said the PNG Hunters is club is about forging partnership to work together for an end goal and that is to win games. He added the culture of the club is built on core values of respect, accountability, sacrifice and teamwork.

“The club is bigger than any player regardless of our level of experience,” stressed Boas.

The PNG Hunters management responded through its media office yesterday, stating that Coach Church has had individual and private conversations with all four players, adding that Boas, Albert, Maki and Gotuno have all been great servants of the SP PNG Hunters throughout their careers and the team and management acknowledge and celebrate their contributions to the club.

Terry Longbut