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Hunters ready to host season opener

Updated: Apr 27

In preparation for the 2024 Queensland Hostplus Cup season to kick off, the SP PNG Hunters held their Captain’s Run on Thursday, March 7th, at the Santos National Football Stadium (NFS) in Port Moresby. The Hunters will host the Wynnum Manly Seagulls in round one of the Hostplus Cup on Saturday, March 9th, at NFS.

After a grueling pre-season, the SP PNG Hunters officially announced their 30-men squad and launched their 2024 Queensland Hostplus Cup campaign last week Saturday, March 2nd, at the Hilton Hotel. Some players lost their spots while others were given a fresh start to prove their worth.

This season’s squad is composed of mostly young guns and less experienced campaigners in the likes of captain Ila Alu, Brendan Nima, Sanny Wabo, Valentine Richard, to name but a few. A mixture of youth and experience will either progress or regress the Hunters this year.

The Hunters have not played in the finals for six seasons. With the promising talents added to the fold and the guiding hands of the few experienced players in the pack, the Paul Aiton-coached side are poised to turn the tide around and make the top 8 this year.

Coach Aiton has faith in these crops of players that he had assembled. It’s not going to be an easy ride, but they are determined to flip the script and write their own story. They are looking forward to the season opener on home soil.

“The preparation has been really good. We’ve been training really well,” coach Aiton said after the Hunters captain’s run session at NFS.

“We are all excited – the coaching staff, management and the players. We won’t get everything right in round one, but I think things are in place so we’ll give our best.”

Just like the Hunters, the Seagulls are stoked to meet the home side on the weekend. Coach Aiton said they would not take the visitors lightly.

“Seagulls are a good club. They’ll come out strong. We are expecting a tough hit out against them and I’m sure they are expecting a tough game from us as well,” Aiton said.

With Aiton at the helm in his rookie season, the addition of the youthful talents and the experienced players under his watch, the SP PNG Hunters are on a mission to start the 2024 Hostplus Cup on a clean slate and hopefully break their six-year finals drought.

Meanwhile, Aiton has named four debutants to take on the Seagulls. He has faith in the rookies and hopes that they would turn up on match day and prove themselves.

“I’m excited for the debutantes. They have proven themselves in the pre-season; they come to the training, they work hard and earn their spots. I hope they are excited and perform well for their families and friends on Saturday,” said Aiton.

Like every other season, this year will be a rollercoaster ride for the PNG-based franchise, as they anticipate to taste their first finals since 2017.

Photo credit: Facebook | SP Hunters

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