BLAND Abavu has been named in the centres in place of the injured Israel Eliab for Sunday’s Q-Cup major semifinal against the Redcliffe Dolphins at the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby.
The 194cm tall utility has played mostly on the wing for the SP-sponsored club but has had a few games at fullback with coach Michael Marum giving Abavu a big vote of confidence to play on the left edge.
Marum added that given his options, he had gone for the lanky three-quarter as centre/back-rower Willie Minoga struggles to overcome a back injury this week.
“Willie’s got a sore back and we’re giving him up until the captain’s run on
Saturday to make a decision on him,” he said.
Marum said Minoga would have been his first choice to replace Eliab had he been 100 per cent fit but he was confident whoever was given the job would not let the side down.
“That’s the team we’ve picked and the players just have to
go out there and handle the pressure.”
Marum hinted that there could be reshuffles ahead of game day with the possibility of right edge centre Adex Wera and winger Wawa Paul swapping roles during the course of the game.
In other team news, Stanton Albert will start at prop alongside brother Wellington
with Moses Meninga retained at lock.
Marum said from their camp in Kimbe, West New Britain that the team had raised its intensity in training and were focussed on the job ahead.
“The team has been in good spirits here since Friday. The people have been coming
to watch our training sessions and supporting everything we do,” Marum said.
“This is the finals and the game will be played at another level. We need to lift and prepare ourselves to that level also.”
The Hunters return to Port Moresby on Friday. The winner of Sunday’s match advances to the grand final while the loser has another chance against the winner of the Easts Tigers
and Sunshine Coast elimination final.
Hunters: 1. Stargroth Amean, 2. Wawa Paul, 3. Bland Abavu, 4. Adex Wera, 5. Butler Morris, 6. Ase Boas (C), 7. Watson Boas, 8. Wellington Albert, 9. Wartovo Puara Jr. 10. Stanton Albert, 11. David Loko, 12. Nixon Put, 13. Moses Meninga; Reserves: 14. Rhadley Brawa, 15. Willie Minoga, 16. Enock Maki, 17. Brandy Peter, 18. Esau Siune, 19. Karo Kauna Jr, 20. Gahuna Silas