The Festival of Indigenous Rugby League kicked off yesterday with the players and coaches joining officials for the Welcome Ceremony at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence in Redfern, Sydney.
The 2018 Festival is the second of its kind, with the week-long celebration taking place in Sydney, ahead of the men’s and women’s matches this Saturday, February 10 at Redfern Oval.
Six teams will play as part of the Festival, including an Interstate Challenge match between Dhadin Geai Warriors (representing Queensland having taken out the Murri Carnival in September last year) and Newcastle Yowies (NSW).
The week also includes key elements taken from the Indigenous All Stars week, including the NRL Indigenous Players Camp, Youth Summit and Wellbeing and Employment Expo.
Indigenous All Stars players including Greg Inglis, Johnathan Thurston, Dane Gagai, Wade Graham, Jack Wighton and Joel Thompson will meet in Sydney on Friday, as part of what has become a significant annual gathering of some of game’s most prominent Indigenous figures.
The group will spend the weekend learning about the significance of belonging, cultural heritage, identity and leadership from a number of guest speakers, as well as attending and mingling with fans at the Festival of Indigenous Rugby League on Saturday afternoon in Redfern.
First Nation Goannas Coach Laurie Daley said the Festival was important way for everyone to get together and celebrate the best of both cultures, as well as play some rugby league.
“This week we’ll talk and share a lot about our culture, the mobs we’re from. There’s a lot on during the week and hopefully everyone enjoys that, sharing stories with one another and working hard in the community trying to inspire Indigenous kids to follow their dreams and become leaders in their own communities,” Daley said.
“The Māoris have got a great history of playing rugby league in a great way and that’s what the Indigenous boys will bring on Saturday as well.
“I’m sure the football will be tossed around and attack will be the number one thing on everyone’s mind, so I’m sure it will an entertaining day.”
Tickets for the Festival of Indigenous Rugby League are on sale now at www.nrl.com/tickets
1.45pm - Interstate Challenge – Newcastle Yowies (NSW) v Dhadin Geai Warriors (Queensland)
3.50pm - Women – First Nation Gems v New Zealand Māori Ferns
5.40pm - Men – First Nation Goannas v New Zealand Māori
(listed kick-offs are in NSW time)
Squad lists can be found here, with final team lists to be announced tomorrow (Thursday) morning.
Stay tuned to QRL.com.au for more news about the Dhadin Geai Warriors in the lead-up to the game.