The SP PNG Hunters will discuss the importance of the Kokoda Cup and their desire to regain the trophy when they take on Intrust Super Cup heavyweights Burleigh Bears at Pizzey Park on Sunday.
The Hunters haven’t held the Kokoda Cup since 2017 when they thrashed the Bears in the annual Anzac Day showdown between the teams.
But the last two clashes for the Cup have been disappointing for the Hunters – Burleigh won 34-18 in 2018 before a forgettable 56-4 result at Pizzey Park on Anzac Day two years ago.
Gold Coast Titans half Jamal Fogarty scored 24 points that day against a Hunters team featuring four players who have been named for Sunday’s match.
Fortunes have changed this year with the Hunters surging into the weekend in third place with three consecutive wins while the Bears – the reigning premiers and long considered one of the best teams in the competition – are in 12th place with one win from their first four matches.
“The Kokoda Cup is something that we spoke about in the pre-season and it will be a focus for us when we play on Anzac Day because that period in history means a lot to the team and to Hunters supporters,” coach Matt Church said.
“We have spoken about the shared history of PNG and Australia at Kokoda and the teamwork that was so important at that time.
“We know that we haven’t played our best in those last two Kokoda Cup matches so this weekend provides us with a chance to play well.”
Church is yet to make a call on injured hooker Wartovo Puara Jnr, who will be given more time to recover from an ankle injury sustained in last Saturday’s win over the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
Puara will break the Hunters’ record for most games if he plays against the Bears and he remains one of only two players in the squad for Sunday’s match to have previously won a Kokoda Cup match.
Picture from SP Hunters Official Facebook Page