The club has recruited well during the preseason with former Kumul lock Glen Nami the big name acquisition on the Tigers roster.
Nami, who captained the Prime Minister’s XIII in 2012, ruptured the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in his right knee that year but played on practically one leg for the Goroka Lahanis. After surgery in Sydney in early 2013, Nami reluctantly sat out the season but has been picked up by coach Stanley Tepend and will prove a more than handy recruit. Nami’s utility value can see him play anywhere from the backrow to five-eighth.
The 27-year-old Nami, originally started his career as a fullback for the Lahanis in 2006.
The other notable recruits are rugby union convert Ray Vagi and Enga Mioks backs Jeffrey Maino and Pasu Awane.
The Tigers have also secured the services of rugged Kumul wing/centre Jason Tali who made the move from the Mt Hagen Eagles after last year’s Rugby league World Cup.
The Tigers sponsored by Lae Biscuit Company, through their Snax biscuit brand, have attracted other corporate backers from Lae city.
Tepend made special mention of Mapai Transport, Goodman Fielder International, Seeto Kui, Golden Rooster, Panamex, Niugini Oil Company, Wennett Building Construction and Hawk Eye Security Protection as the minor sponsors.
Tepend said this has now allowed them to bring onboard an assistant coach, assistant trainer, physiotherapist and a football manager, to maintain and build on the progress made last season.
“Last year we had a good start but failed to go on. With the additional staff and corporate backing, the team will be managed better with the players given the incentives to perform,” Tepend said.
Despite the loss of several of their top line players in George Benson, Thompson Teteh, Noel Joel and Willie Minoga to the PNG Hunters and Wellington Albert to the Penrith Panthers, Tepend was confident of an improved showing this season.
Tepend is in his second stint with the experienced Tim Rodgerson as team manager both men are determined to make 2014 the year the Tigers roar for Morobe.
Tepend, who attended the PNGRFL Level One coaching accreditation course in Kokopo, East New Britain, over the weekend, said building up of a strong corporate base and additional support staff has strengthen their cause.
“From last year’s team we have retained Petero Sanivalu, Mogi Wei Junior, Ishmael Balkawa, Richard Reto, Ate Bina-Wabo and skipper Sydney Fred to set the pace again,” Tepend said.
Tepend adde that they have a crop of junior players from the school level coming through including Warren Clare and son of former Kumul rake Michael Matmilo among the potentials.
Tepend said they have a squad of 25 in camp and will cut that down to 20 after their final trial hit-out against a Madang select team at the Rob Albert Oval on Saturday.. The national