TWO of rugby league’s most exciting former stars, David Peachey and Nathan Blacklock, will lead Laurie Daley’s First Nations Goannas in a trial game against Wayne Bennett’s Knights in Newcastle in a fortnight.

Peachey and Blacklock join with Rod Jensen (Cairns) and Dennis Moran (Parkes) as the four former NRL stars to be added to the Goannas team to play in the trial match at Hunter Stadium on February 8 that will mark the culmination of a week-long celebration in Newcastle of Indigenous Rugby League.

The Festival of Indigenous Rugby League will be run in place of the traditional Rugby League All Stars which is being “rested” in 2014 post World Cup and it will feature extensive community activities, as well as a Murri v Koori match and curtain-raiser games between the Queensland and NSW Under 16 boys teams and Queensland and NSW Indigenous Women’s teams prior to the trial match.

“It’s an opportunity that I never got in my playing career – to play in an all-Indigenous team – so it’s something very special to me,” said Blacklock, who is currently coaching in Mackay (Queensland) and working as a mentor on suicide prevention in local communities.

Daley, who will coach the non-elite Indigenous Goannas team, said Peachey, Blacklock, Jensen and Moran would play a valuable role in mentoring the players on and off the field during the week-long camp before the trial game.

“These four guys were great talents in their playing days in the NRL, but since ending their professional football careers it is the tireless work they have done in the Indigenous community in particular that deserves just as many accolades,” Daley said.

“Their presence in the camp and on the field will have an enormous impact on the Goannas players and I know they are just as excited about getting the chance to play in this Indigenous representative team.”

Peachey is based in Dubbo (NSW) and among his many roles is a member of the Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council and delivers a NSW Government program to reduce domestic violence in regional communities; Jensen is the Community Manager for the Northern Pride Rugby League Club in Cairns (Queensland), delivering community education programs; and Moran, based at Parkes (NSW), is a Welfare Officer for Country Rugby League.

Festival Activities

Fri-Sun Jan 31-Feb 2: NRL Indigenous Players Camp (Hunter Valley)

Sat-Sun Feb 1-2: First Nations Goannas enter NRL Indigenous Players Camp

Monday, Feb 3: First Nations Goannas arrive into FIRL camp (Newcastle)

Tuesday, Feb 4: First Nations Goannas training; team photo; personal development workshop; Joint Media Conference with the Knights (Hunter Stadium, 12pm)

Wednesday, Feb 5: Civic Reception, hosted by Newcastle Lord Mayor (City Hall, 12pm); Community and school visits – Knights and Goannas (1-3pm); Deadly Choices Community Event (Newcastle Foreshore, 5-8pm)

Thursday, Feb 6: Training and workshops for the First Nations Goannas and Indigenous Women’s teams

Friday, Feb 7: Community Festival (Sportsground 2), including Preliminary Games, Clinics etc (12.45-4pm); Jersey presentation to First nation Goannas (5.10pm); and Murris v Koori Interstate Challenge (6pm)

Saturday, Feb 8: Game Day, Hunter Stadium

3pm Gates Open
3.15pm QLD Indigenous Women v NSW Indigenous Women
4.50pm QLD Indigenous U16 v NSW Indigenous U16
7.00pm Newcastle Knights v First Nations Goannas

Tickets:
Tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster: http://www.ticketmaster.com.au/Indigenous-Festival-of-NRL-Newcastle-tickets/artist/1952132

• General admission: Adults $18, Children $8, Family $45
• Reserved: Adults $25, Children $15, Family $65

Team List: First Nations Goannas

Name Carnival Club Place of residence

Joshua Benjamin Ngalpun QLD Mackay Queensland
Malcolm Congoo Argun Warriors QLD Townsville Queensland
Davin Crampton Mindaribba NSW Cairns Queensland
Adrian Davis Yowies NSW Scarborough Queensland
Phil Dennis Dingoes QLD Woodridge Queensland
Rex Johnson Dingoes QLD Helensburgh NSW
James Livock Ngalpun QLD Strathfield NSW
Bobby Nona Yowies NSW Rockhampton Queensland

Kareel Phillips Redfern All Blacks Redfern NSW
Mathew Pitman Narwan OBC NSW Marooka Queensland
Reggie Saunders Dingoes QLD Southport Queensland

Roy Smith Redfern All Blacks Marrickville NSW
Rickki Sutherland Walgett NSW Cairns Queensland
Noel Underwood Yarrabah QLD Edmonton Queensland

Kieran Vale Dhungutti NSW Zetland NSW
Javarn White Dingoes QLD Ipswich Queensland
Former NRL players:
Nathan Blacklock - Mackay Queensland
Rod Jensen Walgett Aboriginal Connection NSW Cairns QLD

Dennis Moran Narwan Old Boys NSW Parkes NSW
David Peachey Dubbo Pacemakers NSW Dubbo NSW