Tomorrow night in the curtain raiser for the South Sydney Rabbitohs vs New Zealand Warriors clash, fans will be treated to some quality junior football as the West Coast Pirates U-16’s take on the NSW Indigenous Squad for the inaugural Rhys Wesser Shield.
New South Wales Rugby League’s Indigenous Programs officer Steven Hall discussed the program and who the Pirates might have to look out for in their encounter.
“We’ve got a young bloke called Adam Campbell who’s contracted to Parramatta and we’ve also got Daniel Parker who’s contracted with the Bulldogs, he played Junior Rep for the Bulldogs this year,” Hall said.
“We’ve also got a young bloke called Jackson Watson, who played with Cronulla.”
But what sort of process does it take for them to discover the best indigenous talent in New South Wales?
“What we do is we have an identification process in NSW, where we identify 70 of the best indigenous 15 year olds and they go into a four day camp in October every year,” he said.
“And we select the best 20 out of that to have an interstate game between NSW Indigenous and QLD indigenous U-16?s.”
“In the future we’re hoping to have another side to come accross over here to play on an annual basis against Western Australia.”
Of course whilst the players are over here to compete in the match, it’s also a unique opportunity for the young players to experience Western Australia’s rich and vibrant aboriginal culture.
“It just not only the football, we’ve got kids from all over the state in the squad… it’s just not only football, it’s cultural as well,” Hall said.
“Being in a new community, it’s good for them as well, good morale”
“We have really good staff, some strong aboriginal men involved as well, it’s good for the kids and shows the respect towards the elders.”
Hall also believes that the NSW indigenous squad are excited to take on the Pirates squad on the back of a great international tour last year, and an unexpected encounter with one of tomorrow’s South Sydney superstars.
“They are absolutely excited, after last year (when) we took 36 indigenous kids to the world cup,” he said.
“Three grand out of his own pocket, Greg Inglis shouted them all to Euro Disney, and they’ve been invited back in 2015.”
Tomorrow nights clash will also see South Kyle Turner, a graduate of the program take on the Warriors – a true success story in any right.
“He represented our top Under-16 indigenous team three years ago and will play in the second row for Souths tomorrow night,” he said.
For Steven Hall though, he hopes that it won’t be the last of an exciting batch of indigenous talent coming through.
“It’s been really good to see them progress all the way to the NRL,” Hall said.
Story Courtesy of warugbyleague.com.au