Former Leeds Rhinos, Wakefield Trinity and Catalans Dragons hooker Paul Aiton could soon be an NRL head coach.
The Papua New Guinea international became known to Super League fans at Wakefield before completing a move to Leeds in what was essentially a swap move with Paul McShane going the other way.
Aiton had a troubled start to his Leeds career due to illness but featured on the bench in the Challenge Cup Final win in 2014. In 2015, he was excellent until he broke his arm missing out on the treble run in.
The hooker then left for Catalans in 2016. But now, long after his Super League career, he has taken over as a Head Coach.
The SP PNG Hunters have announced that existing assistant coach Aiton has been elevated to the role of Head Coach for the 2024 QRL Hostplus Cup competition. The club has also named an official 40-man training squad in preparation for the upcoming season.
The selection of Aiton in the Head Coach capacity is the latest evidence of the Hunters upward trajectory as a football club. Over the last few years, the Hunters have made considerable strides both on and off the field towards a highly professional and successful outfit, and Aiton’s acquisition fits this mould.
Having most recently worked alongside Justin Holbrook in the PNG Kumuls dominant Pacific Bowl Championship series, Aiton brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Hunters Head Coach role.
A former Kumul captain himself and a veteran of 250 first-grade games between the NRL and UK Super League, Aiton is perfectly positioned to guide an exciting group of young Hunters players into the future.
SP PNG Hunters Chairman Stan Joyce said he is “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.”
Preparations for the 2024 QRL Hostplus Cup season have already begun and Aiton will oversee an extended squad of 40 players in the opening stages of the preseason. The final SP PNG Hunters 2024 playing squad will be chosen from this group.
With the Hunters involved in the Papua New Guinea bid to join the NRL, this could mean that Aiton is set to become an NRL Head Coach in the very near future.