Sport: One new cap for PNG Hunters season opener

1:26 pm on 1 March 2017

The Papua New Guinea Hunters have named one debutante for Saturday's Queensland Cup rugby league season opener away to Central Queensland Capras.

Nixon Put will line-up in the second row in Rockhampton alongside David Loko and Stanton Albert.

Loko and Albert are back in the Hunters fold after spending last season with the Lae Snax Tigers and Penrith Panthers.

Centre Willie Minoga is also back in the run-on side after a year with the Townsville Blackhawks, while former captain Israel Eliab has returned from the UK to assume the five eighth position, alongside current skipper Ase Boas.

PNG captain Israel Eliab and coach Michael Marum

Former Hunters captain Israel Eliab is back with coach Michael Marum. Photo: RNZI/Vinnie Wylie

Head coach Michael Marum said Western Highlands youngster Nixon Put has earned his opportunity.

"We were going to go with Nixon starting from the bench but he showed a lot in him during the last ten weeks at training," he said.

"Trial game [against the Northern Pride in Cairns] he played well so he earned his spot in the starting team."

Marum has also opted to keep vice captain Wellington Albert and fullback Stargroth Amean on ice after the duo picked up minor injuries in the trial game against Northern Pride.

"Stargroth Amean, he picked out a suspected fractured collarbone. When we came back the scans didn't really show us anything but we're just making sure we're not pushing our best players the early part of the season, it's only round one," he said.

"Wellington Albert also has got a sternum [injury] also from the trial Pride game."

Hunters and PNG Kumuls hooker Wartovo Puara is expected to miss another six weeks through injury.

PNG Hunters team:

1 Bland Abavu

2 Butler Morris

3 Adex Wera

4 Willie Minoga

5 William Aquila

6 Israel Eliab

7 Ase Boas (c)

8 Henry Noki

9 Sailas Gahuna

10 Esau Siune

11 Nixon Put

12 David Loko

13 Stanton Albert

14 Lawrence Tu'u

15 Ismael Balkawa

16 Enoch Maki

17 Moses Meninga

18 Radley Brawa

19 Karo Kauna

20 Noël Joel

(two to be omitted)