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Rookie with immense dreams

By Ricky Israel    |      SportsTok Magazine| Issue #101 January 2022

Like many other young Papua New Guinea Men who have the dream to one day wear the pride of red, white, black and gold. This 24 year old former PNG Touch Football Representative, Andrew Turlom is taking his chances and eyeing the grand prize to be included in the final National Men’s Rugby 7s Squad.       

This stellar looking led from a mixed parentage of Morobe, East New Britain and Madang were all in action during one of his training session with the PNG National Men’s Rugby 7s Train on Squad at the Sir Hubert Murry Stadium (the new home of PNG Rugby Union). When Sports Tok Magazine sat down with him for a quick chat about his experiences playing Touch Footy and the transition to Rugby Union (7s), and how his experience like in the training camp before the final squad will be named later in March, 2022.      

It all started for him in 2012 when he did Grade Nine at Lae Secondary School, when he was first introduced to the sport of Touch Rugby and loved the ecstatic of it and had played Center for Sentry Tribes Touch Football Club.

In 2017, he took part in my first National Touch Football Championship in Port Moresby. During that time his performance have caught the eyes of the national recruiters and selectors and he was selected in the National Team. In 2019 he made the final cut and was had travelled with the National Team to Malaysia for the 2019 Touch Football World Cup.  It was his first experience travelling overseas.

He was part of team PNG (played Position Link and center) that went to the 2019 XVI Pacific Games in Apia Samoa and returned home with gold for PNG, it was one of the highlight of his life and one of his proudest moments. When he moved to Port Moresby and studies electronics and communications at Don Bosco Technical Institution in 2017, I played center with the On Track Tribe.

Playing touch footy was a great experience, it gave him the opportunity to learn the basics of football (Rugby). It though me the foundation of tackling, ball work and handling, speed, agility, strength, aggression etc. I see that most exceptional players playing in the NRL or Rugby Union and Union 7s began their careers from playing touch football in the likes of Benji Marshall, Kalyn Ponga, to Valentine Holmes just to name a few.


Q: How did you transit from Touch Football to Rugby Union?

A: I recently took up union 7s just last year 2021, when I joined the PC Ravens from Lae and played in the Sports Tok National 7s tournament last year in Port Moresby. We finished 3rd in the cup play offs. The transition from touch to Union was quiet easy and it was great so far. I find it easy with ball handling, speed, agility. It is just like playing touch but with more body contact. However, switching to union was suiting for me, I guess it’s in the blood my late dad Stephen Turlom was a good League player during his days at University of Technology and he played in the Northern Zone competition. My friends gave me the edge to try out 7s. I went for try outs and never look back since.  

Q: What are some of the challenges you faced since making the transition from touch to Union?

A: The biggest challenge I faced since making the transition was the body contact aspect of it. It was unlike touch where there is less body contact (tackles) and more physical trail. The first couple of months was a challenge, but with the help of the coach and the team I quickly managed to work on my tackling skills and my physical workouts. It get tougher and harder at times during training but with my motto of no pain no gain and my strong desire and love of the sport have kept me from going and pushing through. It’s all about have a strong mindset when faced with challenges and hardship when you deals with hurdle or in hard times.  

Q: Do you have a motto in life?

A: No Pain no Gain!!

Q: What was your reaction when included in the train on squad?

A: It was a mix emotion/ reaction for me as I didn’t expect the call. I just transitioned and getting familiar with the sport but was truly overwhelm by the news.  I’m glad to be in the camp and meet the players.

Q: What is your relationship with the boys in camp?

A: Well, we are now getting into the middle of the train on period and the boys are comfortable with each and getting along very well each other unlike the first week. I am starting to know and get along with all the boys.  


Q: On the training days, how is our day looks like?

A: Training is getting harder and harder every session of every week but the boys are putting every bit of them the training, putting hard yards and getting into shape. We usually have two training session in a day (morning and afternoon) and 12 sessions in a week. We began our day with a good health breakfast, than we start our morning training Session around 7am to 12am. On Mondays and Wednesday, we start with weights on upper body, Tuesdays: Conditioning (2K – 3K run on the field), Thursdays: Speed and Agility, Fridays: HPC testing and Saturdays: we have blowouts and day offs on Sundays.

For the afternoon session, right after Then we take a break for lunch and begin the after session around five o’clock before dinner around eight pm, and then light out around 9:30 PM. In the afternoon we usually have coaching sessions with the coach.  We are now focused mainly on our defensive, our tackling skills and our core and our upper bodies. Training has been very challenging for me but I am doing my best and pushing myself and coping with whatever instructions given by the coach.

Q: What is the regiment in camp?

A: Our diet includes fiber, lean protein, fruits and vegetable, plenty of water and plenty of rest. For breakfast the usual’s are Bread, eggs, baked beans, milk. For lunch the usual we have are bread, banana cake, and fruits and vegetable and water. Dinner includes protein like chicken, fiber, starch, vegetables and fruits. We take one table spoon of sugar. Greasy, fatty foods is definitely a no no and off course to have plenty of rest (at least 6- 9 hours of good night sleep).

Q: Where or who is the source of your inspirations, wisdom, and guidance?

A: There are three people I looked up to for inspiration, guidance and motivation. In sports I look up to Andrew Ari, a senior player back in Lae who played in the Lae Corporate Touch Association and Max Vali former PC Ravens Captain and current Snax Tigers Winger. Both Ari and Vali are both my admirers, they inspired me about the way they both played footy and the leadership they portrays on the field and off the field. As for Max I admired his humbleness. My biggest role model and inspiration in life was my late dad Stephen Trulom. He taught me everything I know about life.

Q: Any words of encouragement for the young ones who dreams of playing for the Pukpuks or the PNG National Men’s 7’s Team?

A: My advice would be to go after what is in your heart and what you believe in. Set your goals and work hard toward it.

Q: What are your hopes for the future?

A: My hope and expectation right now in the train on squad is to give my absolute very best to the training and be in the best shape as possible. My main course and priority for now is to make the final 12 for travel. I am looking forward for the Commonwealth Games and the 7s World Cup qualifier. My ultimate dream would be to play for the Pukpuks and the National Men’s 7’s team and someday play professional Rugby in PNG or somewhere in the world.  

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