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“Paul Joseph” is a name that’s closely associated with the PNG Rugby Union team – the Pukpuks. In his prime, the man from Gulf mesmerized the opposition with goose steps and side steps. He was unpredictable on the paddock often slowing or lifting the tempo of the attack at will. He was in control. Although his time on the field has slowed down, Joseph is nonetheless as active as ever off the field whether it be managing, coaching or giving a word of advice to inspire the young up and coming players.
It’s the offer of advice that a lot of people around him appreciate the most about the former Pukpuks skipper. He tells us he is more than happy to share his thoughts if his experience makes a person, and we quote, “a Greater Person than he/she thinks he/she is”.
While some may consider Joseph to be a household name in rugby, knowing every blade of the grass at Bava Park, the irony is that much of his upbringing was centered on the field adjacent to Bava Park – the Lloyd Robson Oval, more commonly known as PRL, the home of PNG rugby league.
And who could blame the future star for following rugby league. Anyone and everyone from the western side of the country, religiously followed their team Hobar Wests, much like the “Porebadans” followed the mighty DCA Bulldogs or the Hanuabadans following the once high flying Hanuabada Hawks.
Hobar Wests were literally stacked with stars in the likes of rake Roy Heni, speedster Pukari Ovasuru and the then hard-men of rugby league like Gideon and Haoda Kouoru, Tati “thunder” Evara and their giant front rower Henry Miro. As the men in the famous black and white V jumpers took control of the proceedings on the paddock, the chant of “Hobar, Hobar, Hobar…” was truly exhilarating and no doubt somewhere in the crowd, the young Joseph would have been chanting along too for his beloved Hobar Wests.
This is his story in his own words:
All I ever wanted was to follow the footsteps of My Bro, Uncles and fellow Childhood heroes of my Beloved Sabs City Raiders and Hobar West RFLC – a club created by one of my grandfathers for all my uncles, cousins and young men from Vailala especially our village Koialahu to play rugby league in the POMRFL.
Growing up my cousins and I would go down to KKHS rugby fields every training sessions to watch the Great Men of Black & White train – we would end up playing a game or two of touch before the main trainings started….we always in awe of all the Players that passed through the Club – firstly with Family members and then others who became families.
Then the off-season would come around and my focus switched to my Home Team – Sabs City Raiders whom I made the Grade many years later before wearing the Blue & White colors of KKHS in both League (U70kg – I weighed only 50kg🤗) and Union.
PRL became a weekend getaway for me as I got involved as a ball, sand or scoreboy….getting more closer to the Legends of the Game, watching closely every step of what they did from warm-ups to game times and afterwards. It was a blast, a dream come true and we were the envy of kids our age who also wanted that opportunity.
Club rugby, National titles and Test matches came along and I dreamt to be a KUMUL…I was there when Southern Zone beat NZ Kiwis in a mid-week match and our Kumuls repeat the dose on the Kiwis in a test match later on the weekend.
The celebrations that took place after that victory still lingers in me.
Everytime at home regarding Sports whilst growing up was ALL ABOUT BLACK & WHITE…it was a Religion🙏
Then this other sport started to interest me more especially 7s rugby which I loved very much cos I played alot of touch footy growing up and I could do stuff out of the ordinary and developed my goose-steps and it triggered a passion to this day.
To every Young Men & Women out there – Be Always Positive and Be Always Prepared to Challenge Yourself🙏
Paul Ishmael Joseph
Former PNG Pukpuks Legend
Feature Pic Credit : Sports Tok Rugby 7s