Sport: Five debutants in PNG Hunters squad for season opener

3:12 pm on 2 March 2016

The Papua New Guinea Hunters name five debutants for this weekend's Queensland Cup rugby league season opener against Souths Logan Magpies.

Former Snax Tigers utility Ishmael Balkawa has been named to make his Hunters debut in the back row while fellow new faces Watson Boas, Justin Olam, Benjamin Hetra and Philemon Kimisive have been included on the interchange bench.

PNG Hunters prop Benjamin Hetra is poised to make his Queensland Cup debut.

PNG Hunters prop Benjamin Hetra is poised to make his Queensland Cup debut. Photo: SP Hunters

Noel Zeming will lead the team with fellow co-captain Adam Korave suspended for the opening two rounds after a carry-over of demerit points from last season.

Sunday's game will also be the 50th Hunters appearance for hooker Wartovo Puara.

Hunters and PNG Rugby League CEO Bob Cutmore is looking forward to the new season getting underway.

"The first couple of weeks I think will be fairly tough because we've got 11 new players that haven't played at Queensland Cup level before, so until they get used to the speed of the game it might take a few weeks to settle in but, in respect to fitness and ready to play, they are ready to play, it's just the speed of the game and getting used to the Queensland Cup and the travel week-in week-out. Hopefully we're going to have a really great season - I'm looking forward to it, I know Michael [Marum, the head coach] is and I know the boys are."

The Hunters finished third in their sophmore campaign last season and begin 2016 with two away games before their first competition match at the new National Football Stadium in Port Moresby.

Pre-season is nearly over for the PNG Hunters.

Pre-season is nearly over for the PNG Hunters. Photo: SP Hunters

PNG Hunters squad vs Souths Logan Magpies:

1 Stargroth Amean

2 Bland Abavu

3 Noel Zeming (c)

4 Thompson Teteh

5 Adex Wera

6 Ase Boas

7 Ate Bine

8 Henry Wan

9 Wartovo Puara

10 Esau Siune

11 Nickson Borana

12 Warren Glare

13 Ishmael Balkawa

14 Watson Boas

15 Justin Olam

16 Benjamin Hetra

17 Edward Goma

18 Philemon Kimisive