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One of Papua New Guinea’s finest rugby league players, Philip Dou Boge, passed away on Tuesday 21 June 2022. Boge was 55.
Renown for his ferocious cover defence and stylish attacking play, the athletically built Boge passed away at home in his beloved Hanuabada Village after battling a short illness.
His playing style was well known throughout the rugby league mad nation. Despite his rather small frame, Boge often had a no fear attitude taking attackers “head-on” punishing anything coming towards him. This trademark defensive style was clearly evident during Papua New Guinea Kumuls’ 1992 tour of the North Queensland when now Blues Origin Coach Brad Fittler and Australian and Broncos electric winger, Michael Hancock, were on the receiving of Boge’s punishing trade mark defence.
With an already famous surname, following the footsteps of elder brother Dikana (Kumul #20), the younger sibling donned the much prized Red, Black and Gold jumper 100 Kumuls later.
Born second last to a family two short of fielding a rugby league team, the former Kumul Fullback was born to parents Boge Nao and Hane Igo. Boge’s father was tall in height with a wide frame – a physique much duplicated by elder brother Mea than himself. But his rather small stature in no way resembled his larger than life heart.
Boge was flamboyant in attack with a graceful stride with an often sharp step that would slice the opposition defence in half. That classic move was so clearly illustrated in a match against the Kangaroos at the jam packed Lloyd Robson. Boge on catching the ball after an in-goal dropout by the Kangaroos moved swiftly towards the opposition defensive line before stepping on the right move to cut the defence. Stanley Haru on receiving a pass from Boge dived over the line before an elated crowd chanting “Kumuls Kumuls Kumuls”.
Even before donning the Kumuls jumper, Boge was already a star in the making.
In the Poreporena Rugby League competition, Boge playing for his clan team Halagu always drew crowds. The whole village, even those supporting the opposition, were in awe to watch this mile mannered Halagu inside centre ply his trade. There’s so many positive adjectives to describe his playing style but villagers after the game would best sum it up his playing style as “mai hairaina” – and in more ways than one too!
It was a commonly held belief in the village that Philip Boge would inevitably become a Kumul – it was just a case of “when”.
But before the Vipers and Kumuls – Boge’s earlier playing career started off with Hanuabada Hawks juniors. One former club player said that Boge was so good that he only played a few games in juniors before being elevated into the “A” Hanuabada Hawks side in the premier Port Moresby Rugby League competition.
Phil Boge or “Phil” as he was commonly known in the village was a household name in the country. So popular he was that walking in town, people unknown to him would greet him like a second cousin or a long lost friend.
Phil played cricket in the off-season and for a few seasons played for Pangia United Cricket Club. He was in charge of the Club’s fitness sessions – not a role that he asked for but it was appropriate for someone who not only ordered instructions but did them too.
A good friend tells a story of a cricket match at Steamships (Waigani) and driving back in the dark after the game. There was a Police roadblock on Poreporena Freeway. The vehicle carrying cricketers were stopped by the officers. Phil was in the back seat. The Police checked the safety and registration sticker and with a concerned look. It seemed one of the stickers had expired. The officer proceeded to look inside the vehicle – first the driver then the off-side before glancing over at the back seat. The officer’s face lit up the moment he saw the Kumul centre. Greeted him like a good mate would do and without hesitation turned back to the driver with a gleeful smile and the words – “Pass thru”.
Amidst all the on-field heroics, Kumul #120 is also known for his commitment and dedication to training and of course his respectful and well-mannered behavior to those around him. These are the kind of traits that epitomizes the ideal sportsman and citizen and one so entrenched in him that his family, friends and anyone who came to know him well, will miss him much.
Had Philip Dou Boge delayed his playing days a couple of decades later, no doubt the country and in particular his beloved family and Hanuabada Village would be glued to the TV this weekend watching their favorite son grace the field and of course serve out those punishing tackles that he so often dished out.
Vale Philip Dou Boge (19 August 1966 to 21 June 2022)