With their future locked in for a further four seasons, Papua New Guinea Hunters rugby league coach Michael Marum says all the team's energy can be focused on the upcoming season.
The Hunters signed a new participation agreement with Queensland Rugby League last week to secure their place in the Intrust Super Cup until 2022.
Michael Marum said knowing the team's future is secure was a weight off everyone's shoulders.
"We were training and also just waiting on what the outcome of the agreement is for the extension," he said.
"That's been signed last week so that's a relief for us now we can focus on our preparation for the season this year and also the remaining four years in the competition."
Marum, who is also the PNG Kumuls national team coach, said hundreds of local players from across Papua New Guinea have been looked at by Hunters coaching staff over the past five years, in an effort to earn a contract with the country's only professional rugby league team and the chance to impress on the international stage.
"Over those five years we've probably had a look at over 500 kids and out of them we've had 66 that have actually worn the jumper: be that 10 games, 100 games or one game," he said.
"To date we have at least 21 players all playing overseas. At the moment there's another 15 of them already been employed. Day to day we allow them to do their studies and now they have got full-time employment."
"There's another probably 11 or 12 of them that are just playing local league back here and haven't got employment but over the past years I've been proud and thought we've done a great job in not only football results but making sure all the players that have left the Hunters have moved on and done well for themselves," he said.
The Port Moresby-based club has never finished lower than seventh in their five year existence and won their maiden Premiership in 2017. But last year the Hunters failed to qualify for the Intrust Super Cup playoffs for the first time since their inaugural campaign in 2014.
The death of PNG international Kato Ottio during pre-season cast a large shadow over the squad, while many failed to recapture past form and others were fatigued after backing up their 2017 Premiership win with a gruelling Rugby League World Cup campaign.
But a new season springs new hope and a new look. The finals format has been changed with eight places now available for teams in the post-season. Meanwhile, the departure of many senior players, including captain Ase Boas and foundation players Willie Minoga, Wartovo Puara Jnr and Thompson Teteh,
has given the squad an all-new look.
"This year we have probably over 50 percent of the squad are new again and they are coming from the local leagues and Digicel Cup (domestic) competition," Marum said.
"Our job now is we've been working with them to make sure they get to that standard that we want to and the levels of football they can play week in week out."
In an effort to speed up the 'get-to-know-you' process, the Hunters squad and coaching staff have moved out of hotel accommodation in Port Moresby and will be spend the season living together in East Boroko.
"We've actually given them units to stay at and we provide a bit of food for them and they're now responsible for looking after themselves," Marum said.
"That's also one thing we've learnt over the past few years is that our players who go overseas they don't necessarily know the basic skills [such as] how to cook and do stuff on their own."
"That's one thing we've taken this year and everyone's gone back to living with their teammates and making sure they look after everything when they come to training and go back and stay with them," he said.
The Hunters open their 2019 Intrust Super Cup campaign with an away match against the Tweed Heads Seagulls on 10 March.