National coach pays tribute to Lepa

SP Hunters and PNG LNG coach, Michael Marum, has paid tribute to rugby league enthusiast, Timothy Lepa, describing him as a person of ‘great character’.

Following the tragic passing of Timothy Lepa on Monday morning, Marum said: “Tim was assistant coach when the Kumuls played Fiji in the Pacific Test last year in Sydney and his tireless contributions to the team were invaluable.

“We have been in touch regularly since then and we will all miss his great character in camp and on tour.”

PNGNRLC Manager, Stanley Hondina, said Lepa was a character in the game. Last season, he guided the Enga Mioks to the minor premiership but went down to Goroka Lahanis in the grand final.

“The loss in the game that mattered most did not faze him one bit,” Hondina said. “He was hurting inside but showed that great character he had by humbly accepting the loss.”

“We will miss his contributions in particular to the players he nurtured in the Enga Mioks side.”

It was reported that Lepa lost his life in a tragic motor vehicle accident around 1.30am on Monday at the Markham plains while travelling to Lae from Goroka.

PNGRFL Chairman Sandis Tsaka said Lepa’s contribution to the development of rugby league was ‘immense’.

“Timothy had rugby league in his veins,” Tsaka said. “He contributed immensely to the growth and development of the game over the past 30 years or so through his roles as CEO of the most popular ‘off season’ rugby league competition – the Coca Cola Ipatas Cup – and as Head Coach of the EPG Enga Mioks.

“For the good of the game, we often had constructive debates on many aspects of the game. And I always respected his views and decisions.”

Tsaka extended his condolences on behalf of the PNGRFL family to his immediate family.

“It is very sad for me personally to pass our sincere condolences on behalf of the PNGRFL Board, CEO Reatau Rau and staff, the PNG Kumuls players and coaching staff, PNGNRLC Chairman Adrian Chow and his staff, all Digicel Cup franchises and the rugby league family across PNG to his immediate families and relatives of the tragic passing of Timothy Lepa.

“May he rest in eternal peace.”

Further information and funeral details will be released as soon as they are finalised.

Press release