PNG Hunters take home 2017 Queenlands Intrust Super Cup premiership after just four seasons in the rugby League competition in Australia.
The Papua New Guinea Hunters (PNG Hunters) is a professional rugby league football club based in PNG. They were formed in 2013 and currently compete in the QRL‘s Intrust Super Cup which is the second tier of Rugby League in Australia, although there is no direct promotion to the National Rugby League (NRL).The Hunters are the second Papua New Guinean side to enter the Intrust Super Cup following the Port Moresby Vipers who competed for two seasons in 1996 and 1997. Every Hunters match is shown live on national free to air television. The Hunters’ home ground is the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby and their team colours are red, black and gold. The Hunters won the Intrust Cup in 2017 at Suncorp Stadium.
On 12 December 2013 head coach Michael Marum announced a 25-man squad for the Hunters’ inaugural season.Three included were Wellington Albert, Israel Eliab, Roger Laka, Enoch Maki, Mark Mexico, Joe Bruno and Sebastian Pandia who were all members of the Kumuls squad that competed at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. The squad was impacted when Wellington Albert signed with the Penrith Panthers in Australia. The Hunters won their debut match away at Redcliffe Dolphins 24-18 with captain Israel Eliab scoring the club’s first ever try, and by the end of the season having lost only twice at home, missed out on the end of season play-offs by just 1 point finishing 6th. Garry Lo finished as the competitions leading try scorer with 24, while Roger Laka was ever present. The club used only 23 players during the whole season.
For their second campaign the squad changed very little. The major losses were Garry Lo, Jason Tali, David Loko and Joe Bruno who joined the coaching staff following his retirement. The main gains being Kato Ottio, Nickson Borana and John Ragi. The season began with the Hunters losing 3 of their opening 6 fixtures, but they then went on an unbeaten run of 17 games to the end of the regular season securing 2nd place in the league, missing out on top spot by 1 point. Ipswich Jets ended their season in the preliminary final. Off the field Head Coach Michael Marum was voted coach of the year, and during the season CEO Brad Tassell was forced to resign.
The Hunters started with a trial against the Brisbane Broncos in Port Moresby on February 24,2018 where they lost 26-12.