ONE of Papua New Guinea’s unsung heroes that put the Pukpuks on the World Sevens map during the early 90’s has passed away. Sukope Tova kicked his last chip and chase when he surprisingly passed away early yesterday morning. Suks, as he is commonly known, was one of the few that could be described as world class to represent PNG. World class…was how former PNG Sevens coach and former Wallaby winger Brendan Moon once described the rangy footballer from Gulf Province. In recent times that statement is as rare as a Pukpuks qualifying for the World Cup.
As a five-eight, he had the reach of back-rower, could step off both feet, pass effectively on both sides, – often regathered his chip kicks – and had a knack for kicking field-goals to win matches. He didn’t come from a well-off background growing up at borderline at Hohola…but that’s where he learned all the tricks of the trade. As a junior Suks was already stepping out in rugby league when he represented the Junior Kumuls to New Zealand. However it wasn’t until he had a taste for sevens rugby when joined up with the Barbarians and later Brothers and Defence club that he would see his talent go on to take on the world’s best at the Hong Kong Sevens. At that time the Hong Kong Sevens was the premier world event for sevens rugby.
It couldn’t have been more timely as it was also the grooming of another world rated sevens scrum-half, Geoffrey Homerang. The combination was deadly during those years especially when they had a powerful line-up that included classy finishers David Aisoli, Morea Kauna, Aiem Pilokos, Richard Masere, Boudie Meapo, David Pera, George Pitalai, Robin Tarare, David Tiki and Ame Mowagi to name a few. Suks, or Egu, by his teammates, lived a turbulent life on and off rugby to survive in the city. He was a true rugby man that will be missed by his former teammates and family.
A tearful senior rugby development officer Robin Tarere yesterday said: “Suks was one of those few that gave a lot to the development of rugby and took nothing back in return. “I commend him for taking up the initiative to develop future players in his suburb at Hohola during last weeks Rookies sevens…the PNGRFU should recognise that,” he added. Suks was currently heavily involved in the Hohola off-season league before his untimely passing. The last time I saw him was on the bench for the Kerema side that took part in the MRDC Sevens over the weekend. His rugby career took him to Darwin, Singapore, Solomon Islands and Fiji until last representing the Pukpuks in 1995. His humility and cheerful outgoing character was always his best attribute. From nothing he became somebody. Rest in Peace, Hero.