When Leeds Rhinos defeated Hull FC there was optimism that their season could be saved but this was shrouded by the saga around one of their star players which dominated talk ahead of their brutal defeat to Wigan Warriors.
This was of course the saga around the former Leigh Leopards centre Nene MacDonald who joined the club prior to this season.
He even signed an extension mid way through their season. Despite signing that contract, he could be set for an exit from the club.
This is because the centre left to Australia for the birth of his child but was expected back in time to play against Hull FC.
However, he didn’t return. Speaking this week, Rohan Smith had little to update on about the situation about his former Norths Devils player.
Smith did reveal text messages with the player whoever.
He said: “I had a few text messages exchanged a couple of weeks ago now. That was the last time I’ve had communication.
“It’s been left to Gary and Nene’s management to sort out where that goes.
“I’m not going to speculate about any scenarios there. There hasn’t been an update in the last four or five days since I was last asked that question.
“So when there is, we’ll be looking forward to a resolution to it for Neta and his young family to get the best solution and also for the club, whatever that works out to be.
“That’s just an ongoing process at the moment. He’s unavailable this week.”
It now seems he will see return to the field for Papua New Guinea all but confirming that he will be leaving the club.
The following statement: “PNG Rugby Football League is pleased to confirm the Prime Minister’s XIII squad for the upcoming friendly match against our Australian Counterparts.
“Eighteen players have been selected to take part in the clash scheduled for Sept 23rd at the National Football Stadium.”
Chairman of PNGLNG Kumuls Wapu Sonk, on behalf of the PNGRFL board, congratulated the players selected.
“We have every confidence in the team and know they will make us proud next Saturday,” chairman Sonk said.
“We also extend our appreciation to the sponsors for hosting this event, especially after a five-year hiatus and the clash finally returns to our shores,” said Sonk.
“Every player selected was the best we could pick considering all the clashing finals on the same weekend and injuries to key players were factors out of our control during this selection process.
“However, we hope to carry on and give our boys a competitive hit-out before the Pacific Series next month.
There are some new faces selected from the ExxonMobil Cup with majority coming from the Hos-plus Cup competition and one from England.
The selected players will assemble on Sunday before going into a one week camp, while the Australian team arrives on Thursday.
Meanwhile, The PNG Kumuls squad for the Tri-nations will be announced on a Seperate date” said Mr. Sonk.
The 2023 PNG Men’s PM’s 13 squad as follows:
Treigh Stewart (Dragons), Robert Derby (Cowboys), Rodrick Tai (Hunters), Zac Laybutt (Cowboys), Nene Mcdonald (Leeds), Gary James (Enga Mioks), Kyle Laybutt (Townsville), Epel Kapinias (Hunters), Judah Rimbu (Hunters), Valentine Richard (Hunters), Nixon Putt (Capras), Jermiah Simbiken (Dolphins), Cruise Ten (South’s Logan), Morea Morea (Hunters), Junior Rop (Hunters), Tommy Moide (Hunters), Seal Kalo (Hunters), Benji Kot (Hunters).