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PNG Hunters captain Israel Eliab has been named in the squad for the Pacific Tests on the Gold Coast next month.

The Pacific’s top rugby league players began touching down in Port Moresby today (Tuesday) ahead of the Pacific Games Rugby League 9s tournament this weekend.

Papua New Guinea and Fiji were the first teams to check into the Games Village on Tuesday afternoon.

The remaining four participating nations – Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands and Solomon Islands – will arrive on Wednesday and Thursday.

The 15-man PNG Rugby League 9s squad features 13 PNG Hunters players, including Israel Eliab, Wartovo Puara and 2015 try-scoring sensation Stargroth Amean.

The two non-Hunters in the squad, Silas Gahuna (Gulf Isapeas) and Rex Yillon (Enga Mioks), have a strong track record in the 9-a-side format and were members of the PNG team that won gold at the 2014 Rugby League Commonwealth Nines in Glasgow.

PNG coach Michael Marum said participating in an event of this the scale was a new experience for his players, but that they were handling it well so far.

“It’s a great opportunity for us, especially for me as a coach,” Marum said.

“I’ve never been involved in a Games like this with all the teams and coaches coming together and working together.

“Living in the Games Village with the other athletes is a totally different atmosphere to what we’re used to, but the good thing is the boys have adapted really quickly.

“Tomorrow (Wednesday) we have a full day of training and three physios working with us to ensure the boys who picked up knocks for the Hunters will be ready for Saturday.”

Marum confirmed that Adex Wera had recovered from a back injury sustained during the Hunters’ 28-all draw with Redcliffe on Sunday, and that the rest of his 15-man squad would also be fit for the Games.

The Pacific Games Rugby League 9s tournament runs from 12-7pm on Saturday 11 July (pool matches) and 12-5pm on Sunday 12 July (remaining pool matches and finals). 

Tickets are available from selected BSP branches nationwide, all Stop N Shop stores in Port Moresby and Post PNG outlets at Waterfront and Vision City.

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