THE Papua New Guinea Hunters welcome back Kato Ottio, Adam Korave and Roger Laka back for the crucial clash against danger side, the Sunshine Coast Falcons, for Sunday’s Queensland Cup Round 19 fixture at Kalabond Oval, Kokopo.
The three have been out for extended periods with injury (Ottio), suspension (Korave) and non-selection (Laka) but are all in the mix to make the final 17.
With 13 Hunters involved in the Pacific Games gold medal-winning effort in the nines last Saturday in Port Moresby, coach Michael Marum knows he has a side that is buoyant after a historic win at the regional event.
But the 41-year-old is not going to be lulled into a false sense of security, with the Falcons already having logged a convincing 36-10 win over the Hunters the last time they met in Round 5 on the Gold Coast.
That day five-eighth Ben Hampton played a leading role in ambushing the South Pacific Brewery-sponsored side with his kicking and control of the game.
The Melbourne Storm stand-off will wear the No.1 jersey this time around and will have other Storm teammates in winger Young Tonumaipea and Kurt Mann, who slots in to the five-eighth.
Rangy Fijian winger Suliasi Vunivalu is the other man to watch for the Hunters as he scored a double in their last game and was almost unstoppable close to the line and in the air.
Hunters captain Israel Eliab and hooker Wartovo Puara Jr, who starred in the Games nines over the weekend, are the men who will ignite the home side as they chase their dream of making the Q-Cup finals in their second season.
The Falcons maybe out of finals contention, sitting third last on the ladder, but they showed last week that they are not a side to be taken lightly, thrashing the Tweed Heads Seagulls 49-10 at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
The Hunters, on the other hand, fought back to draw 28-28 with the Redcliffe Dolphins in their last match in Round 17, which was on the road.
Hunters: 1. Stargroth Amean 2. Bland Abavu 3. Noel Zeming 4. Thompson Teteh 5. Adex Wera 6. Israel Eliab (c) 7. Ase Boas 8. Henry Wan 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Esau Siune 11. Brandy Peter 12. Timothy Lomai 13. Lawrence Tu’u; Reserves: 14. Nickson Borana 15. Atte Bina 16. Willie Minoga 17. Enock Maki 18. Kato Ottio 19. Roger Laka 20. Adam Korave 21. David Lapua