PNG Hunters appoint head coach for 2024 in shape of former NRL and Super League star

Drew Darbyshire
Paul Aiton Papua New Guinea Alamy

Paul Aiton in action for Papua New Guinea at the 2017 World Cup - Alamy

Former NRL and Super League star Paul Aiton has been appointed as the head coach of Queensland Cup side PNG Hunters for 2024.

The 38-year-old has recently been working alongside Papua New Guinea head coach Justin Holbrook in the Kumuls’ success in the Pacific Bowl.

Aiton, a former Kumuls captain, made more than 250 career appearances in the NRL and Super League for Penrith Panthers, Cronulla Sharks, Wakefield Trinity, Leeds Rhinos and Catalans Dragons.

The Mount Hagen-born hooker won 16 caps for Papua New Guinea on the international stage, representing his country in three World Cups in 2008, 2013 and 2017.

Aiton will now oversee the next generation of PNG players progress through the ranks at the Hunters, with the ultimate aim of playing in the NRL and Super League as well as representing their country internationally.

PNG Hunters chairman Stan Joyce said: “I am excited to see one of PNG’s finest rugby league products take the helm at the Hunters and help more of our young Papua New Guinean young men to develop and realise their dreams to play overseas.”

PNG Hunters confirm 40-man squad to work under new head coach Paul Aiton in 2024

The Hunters have named a 40-man training squad that will work under Aiton in preparation for the upcoming Queensland Cup season, with the new coach to select his final playing squad from this group.

Full-time contracts: Morea Morea, Solo Wane, Brendon Nima, Siki Konden, Joshua Lau, Jamie Mavoko, Judah Rimbu, Epel Kapinias, Benji Kot, Sherwin Tanabi, Sanny Wabo, Seal Kalo, Tommy Moide, Trevor Solu, Sakias Komati, Whallan Tau-Loi, Junior Igila, Joshua Mire, Junior Rop, Ila Alu.

Train and trial contracts: Douzen Hoyato, Douglas Pirika, Elijah Roltinga, Clent Lama, Kevin Yako, Zachariah Selu, Garry James, Finlay Glare, Limbi Henry, Junior Talin, Atua Joshua, Alex Max, Jordan Pat, Anthony Worot, Norman Akunai, Chris Urakusie, Wendle Kipsy, Ishmael Waine, Robert Mathias.

Junior Kumuls: Reynolds Tai, Gregan Format, Gabriel Kaupa, Bruce Bawase, Gairo Voro, Felix Beki,

Trialling: Jerry Joe, Brendan Turu, Manash Kai, Weiayh Koi.

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