Their chances have been boosted with the inclusion of former Kumul George Moni, veteran rake Charlie Wabo, Port Moresby Vipers utility back David Lapua, Port Moresby Souths Raymond Tia and Tari products Justin Hawija, Daniel Hari and Mackenzie Buka amongst the new signings.
The Kemele Construction sponsored franchise had a tentative start in their debut last season finishing sixth out of 10 teams.
Wigmen board chairman Andy Hetra yesterday said they had a strong off-season preparation with players being recruited from the Kemele Cup and Agiru Friendship Cup tournaments.
“The Vipers are an experienced team but I’m confident that the Wigmen will push them hard at home,” Hetra said.
Hetra said with veteran Joseph Omai still leading by example, he believes his leadership and mentorship will ignite the young guns to perform above themselves against the title holders.
“Obviously the inclusion of Charlie Wabo has now solved our dummy-half issue that we had last season,” he said.
“We aim to go a step higher this season and having a good number of games at home will help,” he added.
Among the regulars retained include full back Felix Tangue, centre Oliver Kerry, Weza Tenza and hard-working forwards Andrew Ipi, Michael Mapu and Jerry Tapara.
The Stop N Shop sponsored Vipers franchise has a host of newcomers despite the presence of Kumuls Josiah Abavu, Richard Kambo and Enoch Maki in the starting line-up.
Viper coach Leonard Tarum said they haven’t had the best of preparation but is looking towards last season’s regular bench players including Dick Nap, Stanley Torato, Jolam Jerry and Samuel Koim to make their presence felt.
Vipers: Abavu, Stagroth Amean, Jerry, Nicko Dom, Lawrence Kuso Jnr, Sebulon Ragi Jnr, Felix Kawage, Nap, Maki, William Mone, Kambo, Koim, Torato. Reserves: Tala Kami, Tabal Henry, Kam Tina.
The 17th player is expected to be decided between Tau Boge, John Andy and Elijah Riyong.