THE SP PNG Hunters have announced today that 3 of the clubs players will take up contracts with NRL Clubs in early January 2015.
SP PNG Hunters CEO Brad Tassell made the announcement at a press conference today in Port Moresby with Head Coach Michael Marum.
Wartovo Puara & Thompson Teteh will take up 6 week train and trial contracts with NRL Premiers South Sydney, while 19 year old Stanton Albert will join his brother Wellington at the Penrith Panthers on a two year deal.
The South Sydney deal will see Puara & Teteh train and trail with the Rabbitohs top grade squad for 6 weeks where the club will have the option to sign both players for the 2015 season.
Albert’s contract is a two-‐year deal, almost Identical to older sibling Wellingtons with the youngster cutting his teeth in the Panthers U20 side in 2015 before taking up a top 25 squad contract in 2016. Stanton started attracting interest after his player of the tournament performance in the Commonwealth Championship winning PNG U19 team this year as well as several eye catching performances in the Intrust Super cup in 2014. Penrith beat of interest from several other clubs to secure the signature of Stanton with the opportunity to be with older brother Wellington a big plus for the welfare of the young man.
Tassell said it was an amazing effort for the young club to already start providing players to the NRL after the recruitment of Wellington Albert and Mark Mexico earlier this year;
“It was one of the major goals of the SP PNG Hunters…to provide a pathway for PNG players. All 3 players certainly deserve their opportunity and it is tribute to the effort of the coaching staff and the performance of the team this year that has given these players an incredible opportunity. All of the management and coaching staff have been working very hard behind the scenes to forge relationships with NRL coaches and club officials, explaining the Hunters program and providing vision of our players in action this year. The main thing we are impressing on the players is to be patient.
We are spending a lot of time and effort to prepare the players for what to expect in an elite competition such as the NRL and we have no doubt our players have the ability and are developing the attitude and commitment required to be successful at that level. To say the NRL Coaches and Clubs have been impressed with what is happening in PNG is an understatement.”
Tassell also thanked the Minister for Sport for his support;
“The Minister for Sport has kindly granted K10,000 for each player to South Sydney which will cover some of their living costs for the 6 week period and this type of support certainly makes it easier to deal with NRL clubs and the recruitment of our players.”
SP PNG Hunters Head Coach Michael Marum said he was very proud of the program;
“The Hunters program is the best thing to happen to Rugby League in PNG and we are seeing the benefits of the structures put in place by everyone from the management through to the coaches. We have a huge database of players out there that are starting to understand what is required to play at the highest level. We are now creating our own pathway where players can go to the NRL from PNG and not have to move to Australia at an early age. This also ensures that our players will ONLY be able to play for PNG in future and not have a choice…that is a huge thing for our international program in future.”
Marum said he was very happy for the 3 players to be given this opportunity;
“Warts has come through the schoolboys program to the Gurias and to the Hunters so I know he has always had the talent and now he is seeing what can be achieved with dedication. Thompson is a special player with good size, speed and strength and I sincerely hope both players don’t come back and go onto an NRL career. Stanton has got the world at his feet. There are not many, if any others who are playing front row in the ISC at 19 years of age. I’m not sure if the Panthers fully realize what they have got in this kid but he has got it all and being with his brother in Sydney will help both of them to play their best footy next year. It now gives a chance for 3 other players to step up into the Hunters. We have got some great talent in the squad and a huge pool of talent on the fringes of the Hunters so we are excited about what the future holds.”
Player Manager Steve Deacon who assisted with contract negotiations said the NRL were very impressed with the SP PNG Hunters program;
“Your program has proven that a genuine pathway exists for your local PNG players to NRL Clubs.
Your Training and Development with these players in your Squad has highlighted both the dedication of all your staff and the commitment and sacrifices of the Hunters with a superior level of fitness and skills level that they have achieved during the short time in your professional environment and administration.
NRL Clubs have been very impressed with what the SP PNG Hunters have achieved this year. They are excited about the future of PNG Rugby League and the junior players already in your system and how they are being guided through not only Rugby League Development and Skills, but also important factors such as nutrition, discipline, fitness and welfare issues. It is an exciting time for PNG Rugby League and more and more clubs are taking a keen interest.”
All 3 players will stay in camp with the SP PNG Hunters until the 22nd December where the players will go on their Xmas break, before departing for their NRL Club commitments on the 3rd January from Port Moresby.