Here’s the first of our series of Intrust Super Cup previews starting with the ever popular side from PNG and two northern Queensland clubs in Central and Mackay.

PNG Hunters

Last Year: Lost 1st week of finals

2017 Premiership Odds $8.00

TEAM INS AND OUTS

Gains

Albert Wellington – Wing/Prop (Penrith ISP), Stanton Albert – Prop (Penrith ISP), Willie Minoga – 2nd Row/Prop (Townsville Blackhawks), Israel Eliab – Five Eighth/Fullback/Centre (London Broncos), David Loko – 2nd Row (Lae Snacks Tigers), Moses Meninga – 2nd Row/Lock (Hagen Eagles), Wawa Paul (Enga Mioks), Junior Rop – Prop (Lae Snacks Tigers)

Losses

Noel Zeming (work commitments), Thompson Teteh (Redcliffe Dolphins), Justin Olam (Melbourne Storm NRL), Adam Korave (released), Warren Glare (released), Brandy Peter (released)

FIRST THREE GAMES

Away v Capras – Saturday 4th March 6:00pm
Home v Easts Tigers – Sunday 12th 3:00pm
Away v Mackay Cutters – Sunday 19th 2:05pm

2017 SEASON PREDICTION

Regular Season 3-6th, Good chance in the finals.

PLAYER TO WATCH

The PNG Hunters are a team that can strike from anywhere on the park. Their exciting brand of tough but open football honestly scares teams as you are never sure who will be the player to cash in on any day. Ase Boas is their halfback and he is the core of the creativity in their attack. The Hunters Player of the Year will look to continue on with his excellent form to helps spark the Hunters on to more post season involvement.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN 2017

The PNG Hunters have been treated poorly in previous years with games that should have been held at home being moved to Brisbane. This year, with a strong squad they will look to prepare for the post season with a beautiful series of home games in July where they will be either at home or on the bye from the start of July all the way to the last weekend. This pack of three games in four weeks will set them up well before the start of a tough run against the Dolphins, Jets (at home) and then the Blackhawks.

With this draw they will have few excuses and with the squad that they have, will be ready to mix it with every team as the season progresses. They lost some key members of their 2016 squad, but their additions which include players with Super League experience will be looking to improve and move passed the second weekend of finals action.

If they get a few home finals, they will be close to unstoppable.

 

CQ Caparas

Last Year: 12th

2017 Premiership Odds $26.00

TEAM INS AND OUTS

Gains

Matt Groat – Prop (Dewsbury Rams, UK), Krys Freeman – Hooker (Newcastle Knights), Ken Tofilau – Wing/Fullback (Newcastle Knights), Jack Madden – Half Back(Wentworthville), Oliver Percy – Prop/2nd Row (Carcassone), Sam Smith – Centre/Wing (Broncos NYC), Billy Gilbert  – Forward (Cronulla NYC), Sam Lollo – Wing (Yeppoon Seagulls), Justin Daniels – Prop (Rockhampton Brothers), Liam Law – Wing (Rockhampton Brothers), Nathan Bassani – Fullback (Norths Chargers), Ron Francis – Utility Back (Mt Isa), Phil Nati 2nd Row (Christchurch)

Losses

Adam Henry (France), Ian Webster (retired), Jake Ainsworth (Melbourne Storm), Jaziah Dawson (released), Josh Mitchell (Queanbeyan), Matt Minto (Souths Logan Magpies), Peter Gallen (released), Samson Graham (Redcliffe Dolphins), Jordan Kane (retired), Gerard Tema (Sunshine Coast), Tyson White (Gladstone)

FIRST THREE GAMES

Home v PNG Hunters – Saturday 4th March 6:00pm
Home v Redcliffe Dolphins – Saturday 11th 4:30pm
Home v Burleigh Bears – Saturday 18th 4:30pm

2017 SEASON PREDICTION

Regular Season: hoping to finish above tenth.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Will the signing of Phil Nati be a masterstroke by coach Kim Williams? The Christchurch product has both the size and speed and he also knows where the try-line is on the field. He brings experience to a side that has lost many of the core including Matt Minto and it will be needed.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN 2017

The loss of playmaker Matt Minto will hurt this side, but you cannot worry about what you cannot change and Kim Williams is experienced enough to know that he will have made do with the talent he has available.

The inclusion of Krys Freeman at hooker will give him options and the former Newcastle player will have a decent pack to work with. Although the preseason has not been friendly to the Capras with an injury to co-Captain Gavin Hiscox and new signing Matt Groat, the Capras will be looking for their return and to get the team going forward. It might be a long season, but the Capras may be putting together the pieces for future success.

 

Mackay Cutters

Last Year: 14th

2017 Premiership Odds $41.00

TEAM INS AND OUTS

Gains

Jayden Hodges – Hooker (Manly Sea Eagles), Jack Joass – Fullback (Souths Logan), Setaimata Sa – Centre/Backrow(Widnes Vikings), Nicho Hynes – Five-Eighth/Halfback (Manly Sea Eagles Under 20), Cooper Bambling – Halfback (NQ Cowboys Under 20), Jake Eden – Hooker (Souths Logan), Lona Kaifoto – 2nd Row (Townsville Blackhawks), Yamba Bowie – Fullback (Cairns Brothers), Nathan Saumalu – Fullback/Wing (Canterbury Bulls NZ), Semisi Tyrell – Centre (NZ Warriors), Tim Bennett – Utility (Whitsunday Brahmans), Nikko Roberts – Half Back/Five-Eighth (Mackay Magpies), Nick Brown – Front Row (NQ Cowboys Under 20), Gareth Moore – Front Row (Mackay Magpies)

Losses

Jack Creith (Easts Tigers), Michael Pearsall (Brisbane Norths), Andrew Gay (Wales), Regan Verney (Ivanhoes Cairns), Steve Rapira (local league), Joss Boyton (local league), Ryan Kinlyside (local league), Liam Taylor (released), Delayne Ashby (released), John Papalii (released), Tone Susuga (released), Tyson Martin (injured), Nicolas Mataia (injured), Kelvin Nielson (injured)

FIRST THREE GAMES

Home v Pride – Saturday 4th March 6:00pm
Home v Tweed Heads Seagulls – Saturday 11th 6:00pm
Away v Blackhawks – Saturday 18th 4:00pm

2017 SEASON PREDICTION

Regular Season aiming for the finals.

PLAYER TO WATCH

With some major personnel changes, the Cutters will be looking at providing some serious opposition to the teams that could handle them with ease in 2016. The late recruitment of Jayden Hodges from the Manly Sea Eagles will go a long way in to giving the forward pack some direction with his NRL experience. Combined with the recruitment of several other quality players, the Cutters could easily surprise many teams this season.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN 2017

The Cutters have most likely deleted all record of 2016 and will head into the new season with a squad with a high number of changes. Some big lads have come into the pack and combined with a quality hooker and the injection of local talent into the halves should ensure a better season.

Steve Sheppard has replaced Jim Wilson as coach and his demand for a better pack to move the ball out of their own half is clear with Sa, Brown and Moore coming in. Mackay will be both faster in attack and more solid in defence. Initial hit outs have shown the potential for the Cutters, now we will see how they go in the real matches.