Ase Boas will play an important Intrust Super Cup match on Saturday night in a rare milestone moment for the SP PNG Hunters’ men this season.
Boas will play his 116th match for the Hunters when they take on the Central Queensland Capras in Rockhampton.
That will move him ahead of Adex Wera for second place in the Hunters’ all-time games list behind, behind only starting hooker Wartovo Puara Jnr (125 matches).
The Hunters and Capras have the most inexperienced squads in the competition with PNG featuring fewer than 800 combined games’ experience in the Intrust Super Cup. Boas and the front row of Puara, Enock Maki and Stanton Albert make up roughly half of those matches.
The competition average sits at more than 1400 combined games of ISC and NRL experience, which serves of a reminder of the opportunities ahead for the Hunters when their 2021 squad shows the benefits of this season.
The Hunters have fielded 12 debutants in 2021 and coach Matt Church said the inexperienced players have learnt plenty from a season living away from home mixing with the likes of Boas, Puara, Maki and Albert.
“Ase is a premiership-winning half for the Hunters so there is so much that he can teach our younger players,” Church said.
“He’s been a long-serving captain for the team and he knows how to keep a cool head when things are tight so that’s another way that our younger players can learn.
“We know that other teams have much more experience than us but our players are benefiting a lot this year from the circumstances that we find ourselves in and that will pay off in the coming seasons.”
The Capras sit in last place on the ladder but, like the Hunters, that position doesn’t underline how competitive the team has been under rookie coach Guy Williams.
The Capras have lost six games by single-point margins, along with two draws, and they will be boosted by former Hunters players.
Kumuls backrower Nixon Putt is among them, furthering his reputation as one of the hardest edge runners in the competition, while McKenzie Yei is another forward with power.
“We know that the PNG players really lift against their countrymen so this will be another tough game,” Church said.
“The Capras are closely matched to us in terms of game experience and they are known for really challenging other teams – they are always hard to play against.”
The Hunters have won seven of their previous nine matches against the Capras, including a 28-10 win in Emerald when teams last met more than two years ago.
Fullback Terry Wapi will miss the final two matches of the season for the Hunters with a finger injury.
The SP PNG Hunters to play Central Queensland Capras at Browne Park, Rockhampton, on Saturday, September 4 at 5pm:
SP PNG HUNTERS: 1. Edwin Ipape. 2. Junior Rau. 3. Gilmo Paul. 4. Emmanuel Waine. 5. Solo Wane. 6. Ase Boas. 7. Charlie Simon. 8. Stanton Albert. 9. Wartovo Puara Jnr. 10. Enock Maki. 11. Benji Kot. 12. Epel Kapinias. 13.Ila Alu (capt). Interchange: 14. Brandon Nima. 15. Samuel Yegip. 16. Dilbert Isaac. 17. Jordan Pat. 18. Judah Rimbu. Coach: Matt Church.
CQ CAPRAS: 1. Blake Moore. 2. Cooper Marshall. 3. Jake Maizen. 19. Caleb Tull. 5. TBA. 6.
Radean Robinson. 7. Jack Madden. 8. McKenzie Yei. 9. Trey Browne. 10. Tyler Szepanowski 11. Nathan Bassani. 12. Nixon Putt. 13. Lachlan Hubner. Interchange: 14. Caleb Daunt. 15. Ethan O’Neill. 16. Joel Brown. 17. Takai Mokohar. 18. Brandon Roberts. Coach: Guy Williams.
Match officials: Tim Rutherford, Jay Hardie, Luke Quinn.