MICHAEL THOMPSON - Townsville Bulletin
Townsville Blackhawks co-captains Glenn Hall and Anthony Mitchell. THE Townsville Blackhawks are counting down the days for what could be their most demanding clash yet of this year’s Intrust Super Cup. The ladder leading Blackhawks play the PNG Hunters on Sunday in Port Moresby, where the passion for rugby league is boundless and the footy is played hard.
Blackhawks coach Kristian Woolf yesterday named an unchanged 17 from the one that thumped Tweed Heads 42-8 last week, keeping the Blackhawks unbeaten run intact, but changes are likely to be made later this week as players recover from niggling injuries, including Jonathon Reuben. Blackhawks co-captain Glenn Hall says his teammates are treating the Round 6 encounter as any other game, but does concede the rugged Hunters will present a formidable opponent in their own backyard. “All teams in this competition are going to be tough and we’re preparing for another tough game against hard men who play a physical style,” Hall said. “But if you’re not ready for contact, you’ll be in for a shock. “Every team in this competition has stepped up their game this year, but going across that ditch throws up different challenges, such as longer travel time, and some guys have not experienced a game like this before. “It’s a great experience and you want to soak up the atmosphere, the crowd and all that, but it’s a tough game.” The Blackhawks have played in PNG once, visiting Kokopo last year in Round 20 where they lost 28-26. Hall played in that game along with a host of other NRL experienced players including Kyle Feldt, Ray Thompson and Kelepi Tanginoa. “It was my first time playing there and it was everything that people told me it would be,” Hall said. “The crowd was fantastic and the trip was a great experience, but it’s a game where you have to be ready to roll up your sleeves.” A number of younger Blackhawks players are set play ISC in PNG for the first time, including five-eighth Kyle Laybutt and interchange forwards David Munro and Kieran Quabba. Hall said their recent efforts had put them on the right track for the latest challenge ahead of them. “It’s up to blokes like myself and Ant (Mitchell) to arm them with the knowledge that we know, so come game time they’re ready to go,” Hall said. “But these young guys coming in for us are not just making up numbers, they’re taking their opportunities. “They’re keeping their spots and that’s creating competition which is keeping everyone hungry and motivated. “It’s all healthy and like ‘Woolfy’ has said, it doesn’t matter who we put out there, everyone will do their jobs and play to the Blackhawks’ standard.”
HUNTERS LATE CHANGE: SP Hunters coach Michael Marum has had to make minor adjustment to his starting line-up due to the unavailability of one of his consistent performers in prop Henry Wan. Wan won’t be available due to personal reasons. This has opened the door for the likely inclusion of prop Timothy Lomai into the 17 for his first match for the season, and whilst it’s not confirmed yet, Adam Korave may likely get the call-up to a starting role at lock and Brandy Peter be shifted to work in tandem with Esau Siune up front.