William Tirang delighted to change code from union to league – The National
By MICHAEL PHILIP
THE dream of playing for Papua New Guinea in any sport is the motivating factor driving a young man from Vunamurmur, Kokopo district, East New Britain.
William Tirang, 26, was at Raluana Primary School in Raluana Local Government (LLG) when his passion for sports began – he was something of an all-rounder excelling in a number of codes and activities .
“Growing up, I loved playing sports and the only opportunity for me to play (organized) sports was when I was in school,” he said.
“At school I participated in all the games, rugby touch, athletics and even fun games too like touch peggie and relay. I haven’t given up playing these games because I have a dream of playing nationally like Kumuls Marcus Bai, Neville Costigan and Adrian Lam. These people are Papua New Guineans and I thought to myself that I too am Papua New Guinean and that I must do my best to be like them.
Incidentally, all of Kumuls Tirang’s notes as its inspiration were all born on the island of New Britain.
In 2012, Tirang completed eighth grade at Raluana Primary School and was selected to continue ninth grade at Malaguna Technical Secondary School in Rabaul in 2013. His selection to continue ninth grade led him to decide to devote as much time to studies as to his passion for sport.
“I had the opportunity to develop my interest in the sport when I was selected to do the ninth year at Maltech. It’s another level of education, so I knew there would be another level of sports as well when I got there, but I knew I had to balance sports and studies.
While in ninth grade, Tirang joined the Vikings rugby sevens team and focused on this format of play. Playing a complex game like rugby union allowed him to hone his skills and his tactical awareness, especially in attack.
It wasn’t long before Tirang, still growing in his nervous body, was watching earn a reputation as a flier and try-scoring machine for the Vikings. The Vikings were crowned Rabaul 7s champions in 2014 thanks in large part to Tirang and his budding form.
His success in rugby enabled him to devote his time to it and further success was to follow.
“My first year in high school was awesome because I fell in love with the sport of rugby sevens.”
Tirang credited his speed to his work on the track as a youngster who won track and field competitions in elementary school by excelling in the 100m blue ribbon event.
He said naturally the transition from sprinter to sevens player was easy.
His performances in 2014 caught the attention of provincial coaches who quickly included him in the ENB Kaias squad.
“Personally, I had no plans for what was to come in rugby union, but I told myself that I would take any opportunity.
Former seven-man aviator William Tirang says he’s excited
to test themselves in rugby league. – Getty Pic
ity who came. I was surprised to be called up to the Kaias team after we (the Vikings) won the Rabaul Sevens but I just accepted it and joined the team and went to Port Moresby .
He would compete in his first major tournament, the 2015 National Provincial Sevens.
“My first trip to Port Moresby was memorable and it really gave me a boost to perform where I had to work hard to earn my place in the team.
Unfortunately, there was one area in Tirang’s life that suffered as his rugby star rose: his upbringing.
He admitted that his interest in studies was beginning to fade as he devoted more time to staying fit and learning the skills of the sevens.
“I love sports and I couldn’t let this opportunity pass and that’s why I decided to give up studying and commit to my training and make the most of the opportunity presented. by the Kaias.”
And fortunately, this somewhat controversial call paid off with Tirang, one of the stars of the national tournament, catching the attention of the national coach and selectors, which allowed the 181cm and 85kg pilot to to be drafted from the Pukpuks side at seven that year.
“My dream of playing for a Papua New Guinea national team came true in 2015 when I was chosen to play for the Pukpuks. I thought to myself this is it, I have to solidify my position,” said Tirang.
In 2015, at the age of 20, he traveled overseas for the first time, proudly displaying the PNG flag and marveling that he was living a childhood dream.
Tirang would go on to represent his country for the next seven years (2015 to 2021).
Late last year, Tirang decided to follow in the footsteps of other former Pukpuks teammates – Butler Morris and Gairo Kapana – and try his hand at rugby league, signing with the Port Moresby Vipers for the Digicel Cup 2022 season.
Morris, who moved to rugby league in 2018 and made the PNG Hunters the following year, had moderate success playing mostly on the wing despite being a loose striker in the union.
Kapana, while impressing on the world sevens stage, particularly during the Wellington 7s in 2018, was drafted into the 2019 Hunters squad but didn’t quite deliver on the promise he showed in the format at union seven.
Tirang has the advantage of seeing how his fellow sevens have gone and will have considered moving to the 13-man code, but the exuberance and confidence of an athlete who wants to challenge himself is still present.
“It’s a dream come true for me (to move into rugby league) as I was planning to do this because for rugby union most of our international matches have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic (Covid- 19) and for me I don’t want to sit around doing nothing, I want to play.
Tirang said he played at the recent Sports Tok Sevens in Port Moresby in November and helped his team win the cup, then was recruited by the Funeral Home Laumas, a rugby league side, to play in the Southern Super League, an off-season competition that includes teams from across the National Capital District and Central Province.
The Vunamurmur native is keen to go up against the best in the Digicel Cup and given his talent, skill and record as a seven-man star, he could surprise many in the Papua domestic game -New Guinea.