With reputation riding on retaining the country’s national rugby league championship, the Vipers have almost been stripped bare of quality players.
Six grand final players have been elevated to the Hunters franchise in the Queensland Cup, another three who went to the World Cup are no longer around and one player may not be considered because of disciplinary reasons.
With the Hunters are playmaker Israel Eliab, winger Gary Lo, props Enoch Maki and Timothy Lomai and back-rowers Sebastian Pandia and Adam Korave.
Winning skipper Larsen Marape, fullback Josiah Abavu and hooker Charlie Wabo have abstained from being part of the Hunters but have not indicated their intention to return to the Vipers fold. With 10 players out, Tarum is now under pressure to knit together a winning combination to fill the void.
“We have just over two months to prepare and time is running out for us,” he added.
Tarum did confirm that management is yet to endorse the 2014 squad and a training venue for the team. The national