SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 30: Paul Aiton of the Panthers looks to bust out of a tackle during the round three NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at CUA Stadium on March 30, 2008 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The PNG Hunters have announced that former Kumuls captain Paul Aiton will serve as their new coach for the 2024 QLD Cup season.

The selection of Aiton sees him elevated from an assistant coaching role to a head coaching job. It comes as the Hunters have made strides in an upward trajectory for the past few years.

Recently working alongside Justin Holbrook for the PNG Kumuls in the Pacific Bowl Championships, Paul Aiton registered 16 games for PNG in his playing days, primarily as the first-choice hooker.

He also reached the 250-game milestone after stints in both the NRL and English Super League. In the NRL, he played for the Penrith Panthers and Cronulla Sharks - appearing in 108 games and scoring 52 points.

SP PNG Hunters Chairman Stan Joyce stated that 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.”

As well as confirming Aiton as their new coach, the PNG Hunters have announced a 40-man extended training squad in preparation for next season.

PNG Hunters Extended Squad

Fulltime Contracts:

Morea Morea, Solo Wane, Brandon 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 Turi, Manash Kai, Weiayh Koi