• Last years' Knockout champions, the Redfern All Blacks (Brendan Esposito)Source: Brendan Esposito
Former rugby league star and Over the Black Dot panellist Owen Craigie says the work Koori Knockout champions Redfern All Blacks have done changing their community is an inspiration for others to follow.
Owen Craigie

20 Sep 2017 - 1:19 PM  UPDATED 20 Sep 2017 - 1:34 PM

A heap of the local knockouts took place over the weekend and it’s unbelievable having them each year.

It’s so enhancing and it gives our people something to look forward to and participate in it - we’re also promoting healthy lifestyles as well.

What’s so special about the little knockouts is that you can go and compete and give your team a good run-out and flush your system before you go out to the big knockout. Win a bit of prize money to take down there with ya, and it puts you in a good position to see how good your team’s really going and give yourself a great opportunity to really compete, two or three weeks before the big one. So when you get to the Koori Knockout with your team you can really give it a good shake.


Do yourself a favour, get to the knockout - and keep an eye on the Redfern All Blacks

Ahead of the Koori Knockout, the teams to keep a close eye on are obviously the Newcastle Yowies, the Newcastle All Blacks, Walgett Aboriginal Connection and Griffith Three Ways, but I suppose the big team to keep your eye on is the champs that have won it the last two years - the Redfern All Blacks.

They’ve got a big team, a fast team, a skilful team, they’re super fit with great outside backs and fullback and their forwards are unbelievable.

The teams to keep a close eye on are obviously the Newcastle Yowies, the Newcastle All Blacks, Walgett Aboriginal Connection and Griffith Three Ways, but I suppose the big team to keep your eye on is the champs that have won it the last two years - the Redfern All Blacks.

They’ve played together all year round the last couple of years in the local Sydney comp and won the grand final the last three years in a row. So they’ve got a good combination that have played alongside each other and they’re taking that into the knockout which puts them ahead of the pack.

The story of the Redfern All Blacks is a great one and can be inspiration to other teams. Just choose a better solution for your community.

Meet the 'old boys' of the Redfern All Blacks
The Redfern All Blacks is one of the oldest rugby league clubs with an impressive history.

Years ago, no one wanted to go to Redfern, they had a drug and alcohol problem and crime rate going through the roof. But now, with Shane Phillips and Dean Widders and the Redfern All Blacks, they’ve chosen to become the solution for their community and they’ve done that through rugby league, that’s how much it means to the people.

It’s massive how they’ve done it. And all the other communities are now learning from Redfern All Blacks and taking it back to their communities and starting to become the solution for their communities, which is great to see.

The Koori Knockout is such a big weekend and to get to the knockout, you’re going to see some great rugby league. Rugby league means so much to Aboriginal people and you can come out there and watch the women play, the young kids competition and then the men’s competition.

So you can watch that for three or four days and you can relax of a night time, turn your TV on and then watch the NRL grand final on the Sunday night.


Will we have a Queensland Grand Final?

This weekend will decide who plays in the NRL grand final and from the ladder positions, it’s one, two, three and eighth – that’s just rugby league for you.

Everyone thought Parramatta would wipe the floor with the Cowboys but it’s a two horse race - 80 minutes and whoever wants it the most.

There are two Queensland teams still in the comp. Are we having a repeat of a couple of years ago? Brisbane and North Queensland grand final?

Although at this point in time, anything can happen. I know we all picked Melbourne Storm as the front runners, but any player that’s willing to stand up and be the x-factor and play well in these games can win the games for them.

I’m very excited for it and to tell you how excited I am, I can’t pick who’s gonna win. I can sit here and pick this team or that team - at the end of the day you just don’t know! It’s a two horse race and you just don’t know who’s going to win, seriously.

I don’t know how the Cowboys have done it, but if JT was playing, they’d be dead-set favourites to win the comp. But he hasn’t been there so you take your hat off to the Cowboys. They’ve hung in there, they’ve played well and no one picked them the last couple of weeks to win and they’re still winning. Who knows what’s going to happen this weekend. They could go out there and wipe the floor with this other team. You just don’t know.

The Cowboys have a great culture, they’re a great club. You can just tell the impact Johnathan Thurston’s had on every player, the whole club’s themselves and look what they’re doing. They’re one win away from the grand final and JT hasn’t even been playing half the season. Speaks volumes.

The Cowboys and the Parramatta Eels are both ‘teams’, great examples that if you play as a team, anything’s possible and that’s how they’re playing. They’re playing as a team.

We always love a fairy tale and we’re in a position right now in this game that we have all backed the Storm to really win this competition. But they’re no guarantee. They’re no guarantee to win the comp. They are the minor premiers, but anything’s possible.

The fans are right behind the Cowboys too and it’s a great case of one town one team. It’s like Newcastle Knights back in the old days. You used to get sent off like you were part of the royal family.

But that’s what rugby league means to these communities. You take rugby league out of these communities, they’d have a lot more issues, a lot more problems. Rugby league’s more than a game.


To hear more from Owen Craigie and for all of your rugby league news, tune in to Over the Black Dot on NITV at 9.30pm every Wednesday.

All the action from the Koori Knockout 2017 will be broadcast online NITV Facebook 29th Sept - 2nd October (Friday to Monday) and on-air on Channel 34 1st- 2nd October (Sunday & Monday). Catch up with all the action via SBS On Demand after the broadcast.

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