Hostplus Cup 2023

Hunters recall Komati

Despite showing glimpses of successes, the SP PNG Hunters Five-Eight, was dropped in favor of Junior Lau who traditionally plays at center and wing.

Komati has been biding his time with the Gas Resources Central Dabaris in the Digicel ExxonMobil Cup before being recalled for Hunters final regulation round match. 

Komati may slot straight into starting role at his preferred number six position, the rest of the team remain unchanged.

Hunters Win Big over Jets

A heaving crowd at the Santos National Football Stadium was treated to a smorgasbord of attacking football on Saturday afternoon as the Hunters and Jets traded shots in a high-scoring affair.

The points didn’t come straight away, though. Both sides were disciplined to begin the game and worked through their sets cleanly to kick to the corners. The Hunters enjoyed good service from middles Henry Wan Noki, Ila Alu and Junior Rop in the opening stages as they rolled downfield, while the Jets kicking game kept them in the yardage battle.

Hunters out to put down Jets

The Hunters outplayed the Mackay Cutters last weekend to collect two competition points on the back of a resounding 18-10 win. The Hunters defended a desperate Cutters outfit as they mounted a comeback midway through both halves but for all their desperation, Mackay never really got close.  
The Hunters dominated the ruck area once the game settled into a grind, thanks largely to the work of their back five in exit sets.  

Alu happy with playing group

The mixed Central-Simbu native who’s had a roller coaster run at the QRL competition, is confident the team is ready to compete this year.

As the new Hostplus Cup season nears, team bonding in the Hunters camp is crucial to building rapport and confidence among the playing group. Since the sudden departure of senior players from the team over the past week, Hunters mainstay and most senior player, Ila Alu plays a big role in keeping the boys level headed and focused on their preparations for the season.

Hunters’ players in spotlight

The Hunters trial matches were organized and played using the tri-series format. Hunters played Port Moresby Vipers in the first half and then took on the Gulf Isou in the second half.

While Hunters Head Coach Stanley Tepend and assistant Paul Aiton, watched from the sideline, yesterday’s trials gives them a better perspective of players skill level, how they work through their set pieces in attack and their defensive system, likewise game structure and staying consistent under fatigue was also crucial especially competing at the QRL level.

Tai scores try in Dolphins win

Into his second year in the Hostplus Cup, 24-year-old Rodrick Tai who is one of the four Kumul players that joined the Dolphins,ran out onto the field, and managed to score a try for the Dolphins.

Before the trial, Tai stated that last year was a big year for him.

“To make the Hunters squad, play a lot of games, then go to the World Cup and to get to come here, it’s been a very big year. I’m just stoked. I cannot believe it. It’s been good”.

Hunters training intensifies

Upon their return from the Christmas break training has intensified with more emphasis on defense and endurance which will set the platform for the second period of their preseason training.

Since preseason training resumed last week, Coach Stanley Tepend and Assistant Paul Aiton have been impressed with the attitude and commitment shown by the players especially their work ethics at every training session which has been intense and challenging.

Hunters yet to confirm trial

Speaking at yesterday’s Hunters media session,Tepend outlined the team’s strategy for the next seven weeks including inviting a Hostplus Cup team to come up to Port Moresby for a trial game towards the end  February.

When giving a snapshot on this year’s Hostplus Cup draw, Tepend said the Hunters will open their campaign this year with back to back away games against Clydesdales and Magpies on March 12th and 18 respectively.

The Hunters first home game will be on March 25 against Brisbane Tigers at the National Football Stadium.

Hunters earn crack at Dolphins pre-season

This arrangement is part of a strategic partnership between the SP PNG Hunters and the Dolphins NRL club which aims to get more local players of Papua New Guinea into the NRL Competition. 

The four Hunters players - Judah Rimbu, Rodrick Tai, Sherwin Tanabi and Emmanuel Waine - began training with the Wayne Bennett-coached Dolphins this week and will be working towards earning a fulltime NRL contract over the next eight weeks of preseason. 

Hunters resume training

The team officially resumed training on Monday minus four of the senior players who are currently on train and trial with the Dolphins in Brisbane.

With 8 weeks remaining  before the Hostplus Cup season kicks off on the weekend of March 11 and 12 -2023,the PNG Hunters have finalized their 30 man squad with the inclusion of returning Hunters and  a number of exciting young talents from the Digicel Cup who have earned their spots on merit.