FORMER Papua New Guinea Kumul Tu’u Maori passed away yesterday at the age of 33 after a battle with motor neurone disease in Australia.
The disease is a condition that affects particular nerves known as motor nerves, or motor neurons.
Those neurons generate and die, and slowly the muscles become weaker. This eventually leads to paralysis.
Born on Nov 22, 1988, the 2015 Brisbane Rugby League premiership-winning Ipswich Jets captain was diagnosed with the disease in February, 2019.
PNG coach Michael Marum paid tribute to the Kumul No.209 soon after he received the news. He told The National yesterday that the former Cronulla Shark and Melbourne Storm junior had always donned the Kumuls jumper with pride.
Marum said Maori never lost contact with PNG players even after his Kumuls era.
“It is very sad news and the entire Kumuls squad (current and former players) who are based in PNG and in Australia are touched by his passing,” he said. “Maori played eight Tests matches for PNG and scored three tries.
“I know him well, I was the assistant coach to Adrian Lam when the Kumuls toured Europe in 2007.
“Maori made his debut in the Test against Wales.
“He played in the 2008 World Cup in Australia and the Pacific Cup in Port Moresby in 2009.
“Maori also played his first Prime Minister’s 13 match for PNG against Australia in 2006. He was a good character.
“Maori would always crack jokes with his Kumuls teammates, especially the local players in the team when they were in camp.
“He played with passion and gave his best in every game he played.
“Maori’s contribution to the Kumuls will never be forgotten and we thank him for his services.”
Marum said Maori always had time to meet PNG players whenever the SP Hunters played in the Queensland towns where he lived.
“When I was the Hunters coach, he was based in Ipswich, so whenever we played against the Jets, he would come and cheer for us.
“I think Maori played in the local leagues in Ipswich at the time.
“He would come around and meet the Hunters players and crack jokes with them. Condolences to Maori’s family. We will miss him.”
The National / PNG Hunters News
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