THEY are small but big in heart.
Papua New Guinea Hunters quartet Noel John (20), Roger Laka (24), Noel Zeming (24) and Israel Eliab (23) are whom coach Michael Marum is looking to fill the key halves positions for the South Pacific Brewery-sponsored team.
You would never have thought following last year’s Digicel Cup rugby league competition that these four young men would play an instrumental role in PNG’s debut in the Queensland Cup.
With only three weeks away before the first trial match against the Northern Pride in Cairns, these four players are working overtime to secure a starting role. They come from different clubs and were never the top pick for those positions in the make-up for last year’s World Cup.
Whilst Eliab looked to be tailor made for it, was never given a chance and Laka wasn’t given a chance to play in the World Cup.
Both Eliab and Laka have a bone to pick, Zeming is on a roller-coaster ride after starting last season on the wing for the Lahanis and John is an exciting future prospect that just completed Lae Secondary School last year.
Like Eliab, Laka and John, Zeming from Sialum (Morobe) and Nondugl (Jiwaka), who will graduate with an education degree from the University of Goroka, has put a teaching career on hold to commit to the Hunters.
They all agree that they have been given the rare opportunity to play an important role in the team and all agree that the physical demands of the training thus far has made them mentally tougher. They are all young vibrant players that have the capacity to mature at a higher level of football,” Marum said.
“They have two trial matches coming up next month to prove themselves to see how they handle themselves,” Marum said.
“They will be given a chance to start in either match and swap around as we look to cement a working combination,” he added. Marum said it is important that the players are good talkers under pressure and are able to move and direct the big forwards.
“We need players who can call the shots,” he said.
He said Eliab, Laka and Zeming play both six and seven, while John can play those positions as well as dummy-half.
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Downer Rugby League 9s World Cup
- PNG Kumuls 0 Australia 26
- PNG Kumuls 18 New Zealand Kiwis 18
- PNG Kumuls 23 USA Tomahawks 10
Pacific Test Results
201 9 - PNG Kumuls 28 Great Britain Lions 10
2019 - Fiji Bati 22 PNG Kumuls 20
2019 - PNG Kumls 6 Samoa 24
2018 - PNG Kumuls 26 Fiji Bati 14
2017 - PNG Kumuls 32 Cook Islands 22
2016 - PNG Kumuls 24 Fiji Bati 22
2015- Fiji Bati 22 PNG Kumuls 22
World Cup Results
Round 1 : PNG Kumuls 50 Wales 6
Round 2: PNG Kumuls 14 Ireland 6
Round 3 PNG Kumuls 64 USA 0
Quarter Finals : PNG Kumuls 6 England 36