Coach Michael Marum and his coaching staff are equally eager to gauge whether their seven-week training has been on target for their debut season. Most of those questions will be answered when the SP Hunters play their first trial match against Northern Pride this Sunday in Cairns. They later travel by road to Rockhampton for the second trial against Central Queensland Capras on February 15.
They return home before they put the final touches to their preparations before the competition opener against Redcliffe Dolphins in Brisbane – a televised game on Channel 9 – on March 2 before they host defending premiers Mackay Cutters in Kokopo, East New Britain, on March 8.
“The boys are jumping out of their skins (to play),” Marum said after Saturday’s morning session which followed a coaching clinic with children from the Bomana where the Hunters have been camping.
The children as young as two years old took part in coaching clinics conducted by the Hunters before the enthusiastic boys and girls finished the day with complimentary t-shirts and footballs.
The session also followed a visit by Minister for Sports Justin Tkatchenko and National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop as they were shown the Hunters’ training facilities, which includes a well-furnished modern gymnasium.
The equipment being used in the gym, said to be on par with what Australia’s National Rugby League clubs use, will be packed and shipped to Kokopo when the Hunters relocate to their new home when it is ready in April.
Tkatchenko and Parkop later met the players before the Hunters were released for usual morning training session.
Marum said he has been using a couple of playing combinations which will be put through their paces in a real game situation during both trials.
The full squad of 22 – is scheduled to fly out this Saturday.
Marum said he will rotate all the players – except for Mark Mexico – testing them in the various combinations in both games, before he settles with his preferred 18 for the competition opener against Redcliffe Dolphins in Redcliffe.
Mexico, a member of last year’s Kumuls World Cup squad, is carrying an injury and will soon undergo a minor operation in order to have him available for their first game.
Mexico, five-eighth option Noel Zeming and hooker candidate Noel John – also believed to be carrying niggling injuries were seen working away from the main squad with boxing gloves – while the others engaged in the more gruelling defensive drills.