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SP PNG Hunters have re-appointed Matt Church as coach for the 2022 Intrust Super Cup season.

The Hunters board voted unanimously for Church to remain at the helm for next season after he steered the team through the challenges of 2021 when it was forced to relocate to southeast Queensland due to Covid travel restrictions.

The Hunters have confirmed that the team will return to Queensland throughout 2022 due to the ongoing international Covid travel challenges.

“We are delighted to reappoint Matt Church given how he and his staff handled a difficult year,” Hunters Chairman Mr Stan Joyce CSM said.

“The Hunters played extremely well in parts of this season and we know what the team is capable of with the 2021 experience under their belts. Matt is a high-quality coach and he has put in place the building blocks for an exciting 2022.”

Church thanked the Hunters board and said he was already looking forward to next season.

“I’m really pleased to extend my role as Hunters Coach – it’s a role I take great pride in,” Church said.

“I would like to thank Hunters Chairman Stan Joyce and the Hunters board members for their faith in me.

“This year threw up numerous challenges but next year brings with it similar tests so the benefit of experience will be significant for us. Our players developed strongly this year by living through these challenges and I know they will be ready to go again in 2022.

“I would like to acknowledge Hunters’ sponsors, partners and stakeholders during these times and personally I’d finally like to thank my wife and family for their love and support. I look forward to being back in front of the group and leading the Hunters towards a strong year in 2022.”

Mr Joyce said the Hunters would complete their pre-season preparations in Port Moresby from mid-November until the end of January before relocating to Queensland.

“The board has to begin preparations for next season and, without the prospect of quarantine-free travel in the short-term, we must look towards another season based in Queensland,” Mr Joyce said.

“While we would love to play at home again, we must ensure that the Hunters continue to play in the Intrust Super Cup, further developing our pathways to the highest levels of rugby league.”

The Hunters played excellent football at times in 2021, defeating preliminary finalists Tweed Seagulls late in the season and falling by only two points to this weekend’s grand finalists Wynnum Manly.

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