Sport: PNG Hunters set for early Christmas present

12:40 pm on 4 December 2018

Papua New Guinea Rugby League hope to sign off on a four-year extension to the PNG Hunters Intrust Super Cup licence in time for Christmas.

The Hunters' initial five year deal concluded this season, when the defending champions failed to make the playoffs of the Queensland Cup competition.

The PNG Hunters are back on home soil.

The PNG Hunters original five year licence expired in 2018. Photo: Facebook/SP PNG Hunters

Talks over a new deal have been ongoing and PNGRFL Chair Sandis Tsaka said they are now close to a resolution.

"We've already concluded discussions with the Queensland Rugby League - we are finalising little changes but we will hopefully sign off on the Hunters participation in the next couple of weeks," he said.

"We are also in discussion with the NRL on the growth of the game in the Pacific, and in particular Papua New Guinea, so our discussions with NRL, QRL and PNG are being finalised and we will hopefully sign off on the participation agreement for the next four years."

PNG Orchids captain Cathy Neap and PNGRFL Chair Sandis Tsaka.

PNG Rugby League Chair Sandis Tsaka (R). Photo: RNZ Pacific/Melvin Levongo

Despite not yet being confirmed for 2019, an extended PNG Hunters squad began pre-season training two weeks ago in Port Moresby.

Foundation coach Michael Marum, who himself is out of contract, has already released 11 players from the initial 60-man squad for personal reasons, failing medical and/or fitness tests and injury.

However Jack Oii from the Magani club in Port Moresby has been added to the squad.

PNG Hunters coach Michael Marum.

PNG Hunters coach Michael Marum. Photo: RNZ Pacific/Melvin Levongo

Sandis Tsaka said the PNGRFL Board will meet soon to discuss a new deal for Michael Marum, who is also head coach of the PNG Kumuls national team.

"Michael is still with the team," he said.

"His contract goes to the Board meeting on 14th of this month so when the Board meets they will deliberate on it but in all probability Michael will be reconfirmed to continue in his role. We've had discussions with him on the way forward by looking at succession planning."

The PNG Hunters squad will be cut to 30 before Christmas.

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