Fourteen of Australia’s most talented non-elite Indigenous players attended an official welcome at Sydney’s Rugby League Central today before linking with an NRL Club for the week to experience firsthand what it takes to play in the game’s premier competition.
Laurie Daley’s First Nations Goannas players will have the experience of a lifetime this week as “temporary” members of the Bulldogs, Eels, Panthers, Sea Eagles, Rabbitohs, and Dragons, as well as the Sharks who will play host to two young Indigenous players Boby Nona and Kieran Vale.
The First Nation Goannas club and camp experience is a part of a two-week build-up to their trial match against the Knights at Newcastle’s Hunter Stadium on Saturday week (February 8).
One of the two players joining the Sharks this week is Kieran Vale, a young man with a long family tradition of involvement in rugby league. Vale’s father Eddie Vale was in the first Indigenous Australian Rugby league team to tour overseas, his brother Paul Davis played with Wests Tigers, while Eddie’s niece is in the NSW Women’s Indigenous Rugby league team and has represented Australia in touch football.
Bobby Nona, who hails from Baru Island and currently plays for Carpas in the Queensland Cup, is another great story in that he has lost 45kg in past 12months to be in peak condition for the upcoming Newcastle trial match.
The two young men will spend time and go through their paces with the Sharks NRL squad at training sessions throughout the week.
The trial between the First Nations Goannas and the Knights will mark the culmination of the week-long Festival of Indigenous Rugby League being held in Newcastle in place of the traditional Rugby League All Stars which is being “rested” in 2014 post World Cup.
Following their NRL Club experience, the Goannas will join the NRL Indigenous Players Camp at the Hunter Valley over the weekend, before heading to Newcastle for a week of training, personal development workshops and community activities ahead of the February 8 match.
The First Nations Goannas Induction/ Morning Tea was held at Rugby League Central today, an event headed by ARL Indigenous Council Chair, the Hon. Linda Burney MP.
ARL Indigenous Council member and Goannas rep, David Peachey, along with First Nations Goannas Team Manager and Indigenous Team of the Century member, Mal Cochrane, NRL Indigenous Players Welfare and Education Programs Manager, Dean Widders and NRL Community, Culture and Diversity Interim General Manager, Mark Deweerd were also in attendance, as were First Nations Goannas Players and NRL Club representatives from Bulldogs, Eels, Panthers, Sea Eagles, Rabbitohs, Sharks and Dragons
First Nations Goannas
Name - Carnival Club being represented - Place of residence - Host NRL Club
Joshua Benjamin - Ngalpun Warriors QLD - Mackay QLD - Eels
Malcolm Congoo - Argun Warriors QLD - Townsville QLD - Panthers
Davin Crampton - Mindaribba Warriors NSW - Cairns QLD - Bulldogs
Adrian Davis - Newcastle Yowies NSW - Scarborough QLD - Sea Eagles
Phil Dennis - Southern Dingoes QLD - Woodridge QLD - N/A
Rex Johnson - Southern Dingoes QLD - Helensburgh NSW - Rabbitohs
James Livock - Ngalpun Warriors QLD - Strathfield NSW - Sea Eagles
Bobby Nona - Newcastle Yowies NSW - Rockhampton QLD - Sharks
Kareel Phillips - Redfern All Blacks NSW - Redfern NSW - Rabbitohs
Matthew Pittman - Narwan Old Boys NSW - Marooka QLD - N/A
Reggie Saunders - Southern Dingoes QLD - Southport QLD - Bulldogs
Roy Smith - Redfern All Blacks NSW - Marrickville NSW - Eels
Rickki Sutherland - Walgett Aboriginal Connection NSW - Cairns QLD - Dragons
Noel Underwood - Yarrabah Seahawks QLD - Edmonton QLD - Dragons
Kieran Vale - Dunghutti NSW - Zetland NSW - Sharks
Javarn White - Southern Dingoes QLD - Ipswich QLD - Panthers
Nathan Blacklock - Mackay QLD - N/A
Rod Jensen - Walgett Aboriginal Connection NSW - Cairns QLD - N/A
Dennis Moran - Narwan Old Boys NSW - Parkes NSW - N/A
David Peachey - Dubbo Pacemakers NSW - Dubbo NSW - N/A