Two SP Hunters players have been given “train and trial” opportunities with NRL clubs while the third has been contracted to another Intrust Super Cup club.
Kato Ottio has joined the Canberra Raiders while Warren Clare is bound for Cronulla Sharks on “train & trial” engagements.
Boom forward Willie Minoga, who served as a valuable impact player off the bench, has been signed up by 2015 grand finalists Townsville Blackhawks.
PNGRFL chairman Sandis Tsaka released the details today adding that the news is a great boost for the SP Hunters as they prepare for their third season in the Queensland Intrust Super Cup competition.
But Tsaka reminded the players that they would have to lift their work-rate as there were other players in the clubs they were linked with who were in intense competition to impress for long-term contracts for the future.
“We are very proud of what the boys have achieved which is a big plus for the programs we have in place such as the Hunters but it is just the part of the step and more hard work is in store for them as push towards getting full-time contracts,” Tsaka said.
Ottio and Clare’s “train & trial” stints follows Wartovo Paura and Thompson Tete’s six-week attachment with Souths Sydney last year.
The duo returned much better players and were instrumental in the SP Hunters impressive run to finish one game shy of the 2015 grand final play-offs.
That performance has also received praise from just recently engaged PNGRFL CEO Cutmore, who said it was a wonderful effort from coach Michael Marum considering the many challenges the Hunters had to overcome.
Cutmore who took up his post last month said that the SP Hunters being the team that travelled much longer distances compared to most of the 11 teams in the competition throughout the season, didn’t let them deter them as they ended finishing the regular season in second spot.
“They (SP Hunters) deserve better…they deserve a lot more credit than what they have been getting,” Cutmore said as he announced that preparations for the 2016 was being finalised with the squad to assemble next week for pre-season training.
He said coach Michael Marum and his coaching staff had a done wonderful job so not much would change except for some slight alterations to be announced as soon as the squad assembles in Port Moresby next week.
Cutmore said the Hunters was to create a pathway for players to advance to the elite level and if the players got scouted and engaged by overseas clubs – that would be a bonus for the program as it would open up spots for other young men to step up to have a shot at making the Hunters team.
Meanwhile coach Marum has announced his 2016 squad, which assembles in Port Moresby for the November 24 pre-season start.