Minoga a hit

HE has been dubbed ‘Freight Train’ and the ‘Raging Bull of Kokopo’ and PNG Test representative Willie Minoga is now a step closer to realising his NRL dream having signed with the Townsville Blackhawks for season 2016.
One of the stars for the PNG Hunters in their first two years in the Intrust Super Cup, Minoga will be within close range of the coaching staff of the champion North Queensland Cowboys having joined the Blackhawks for their first session of the pre-season on Monday.
Winner of the XXXX People’s Choice award in 2014, Minoga was first likened to Broncos legend and Townsville product Gorden Tallis by Channel Nine commentator and NRL legend Scott Sattler when he first saw him play for the Hunters.
Looking to add some punch to a team that lost the grand final to Ipswich this year, Blackhawks coach Kristian Woolf believes he is a player who can one day transition into the NRL.
“Willie has got all the physical attributes,” Woolf told NRL.com of the PNG international.
“He’s big, he’s fast, he’s powerful and he’s got a good skill level. He can already do a lot of things that can make him a fringe first grade player and what him coming to us offers is a chance to play in a more structured style.
“From my point of view, the biggest question mark that NRL clubs have over the guys from PNG is how they’ll survive in a system in Australia and how they handle the structure that we tend to play compared to the structure that they play over there.
“It’s going to be the difficult thing for him but if he can come in and fit into our structure and still offer all the strengths that he’s got and bring something a little bit different to our squad, then that’s how he sells himself to an NRL club.”
Minoga was on the end of a Marika Koroibete bell-ringer in the PNG v Fiji Pacific Test in May but was one of the key factors in the Hunters qualifying for their first Intrust Super Cup finals series in 2015.
Basing their programme around providing their players with the opportunity to further their careers, Hunters officials helped to facilitate Minoga’s move to Townsville and Woolf is confident his impact will be immediate.
“He was a bloke that always made a real impact when he played against us so he was a bloke that we had always admired from afar,” Woolf said.
“We identified that an area that we really lacked in last year was blokes that could come off the bench and give us some real punch and I thought he was one of the best in the comp in that for what he did for the Hunters.
“If he runs as hard as he did and tackles as aggressively as he did last year, even if he takes a while to catch onto the structure he’s still going to be effective for us.
“He’s got enough physical attributes that he survives anyway but I’m hoping that we can fit him into our structure and keep those strengths.
“If that adds 10 per cent onto his game hopefully it opens some other doors for him as well.”
Minor premiers in their inaugural season in 2015, the Blackhawks have also added seasoned NRL forward Glenn Hall to their full-time playing squad along with Hezron Murgha, who has spent the past two seasons as a member of the Cowboys squad. – NRL.com
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