Search begins to unearth next First Nations talent
Photos: Karen Watson / Rugby AU / Mike Lee @ KLC fotos for World Rugby
The search to unearth the next Kurtley Beale, Mahalia Murphy or Maurice Longbottom has begun, with Rugby Australia’s High Performance team embarking this week on an Indigenous talent ID tour from Bathurst all the way up to Alice Springs.
The #dreamBigTime tour started on Monday in western New South Wales, and will continue over the next two weeks through remote regions including Walgett, Wilcannia, Coober Pedy and Alice Springs. It is one of three major talent ID tours to be undertaken over the next three months, in the hope of finding the next batch of First Nations players who might have what it takes to wear the green and gold.
Once the three tours are completed, the best 130 players will be flown to Sydney in July for a four-day camp where they will get a chance to showcase their talents in front of a panel of national coaches. From there, the top 40 will be split into two squads of First Nations Sevens 20 sides, who will then compete in five domestic and two international tournaments.
The project is being headed up by former Australian Men’s Sevens Assistant Coach Jarred Hodges, with the support of Rugby Australia and the Member Unions.
‘’Being a descendant of the First Nations People and having worked with the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team for more than two decades I am incredibly passionate about this project,” said Hodges.
‘’Together with the Member Unions we’ve undertaken extensive research to pinpoint locations with the highest First Nations population, where there is no doubt huge sporting potential. The excitement is building in these communities and we’re expecting to engage more than 500 players aged 14-25 on the first trip.
‘’We will also ensure this won’t be a one-off visit as we will work with the Member Unions to re-visit each of these communities and keep tapping into existing talent.”
Video courtesy of Rugby Australia
Former Wallaby and Indigenous legend Glen Ella has joined the tour, and is looking forward to seeing the levels of talent that he is convinced are just waiting to be tapped into.
‘’I’m confident we will uncover some incredible talent as we know First Nations Peoples are a natural fit for Sevens who can run fast and find space,” he said.
‘’This is the only footy code in the country which offers international exposure and one where you can be fast-tracked to the top in just a matter of months. Our long-term goal for this project will be to have at least two players join the Australian Sevens squads for the 2024 Olympics which is looking promising.”
Rugby Australia has also partnered with the Aboriginal Medical Services in each town to be visited, in order to promote the importance of keeping healthy both on and off the field.
Schedule for Tour One:
Monday March 25th – Bathurst, NSW, Orange, NSW
Tuesday March 26th – Dubbo, NSW
Wednesday March 27th – Walgett, NSW, Brewarrina, NSW
Thursday March 28th – Bourke, NSW, Nyngan, NSW, Cobar, NSW
Friday March 29th – Wilcannia, NSW, Broken Hill, NSW
Saturday March 30th – Port Augusta, SA
Sunday March 31st – Coober Pedy, SA
Monday April 1st – Erldunda, NT
Tuesday April 2nd – Uluru, NT
Wednesday April 3rd – Uluru, NT
Thursday April 4th – Alice Springs, NT
Friday April 5th – Alice Springs, NT