• The Newcastle Yowies have won the 2017 Koori Knockouts. (NITV)Source: NITV
Rugby league in Aboriginal communities is probably bigger than it’s ever been and it’s going to keep growing that way, according to Over the Black Dot panellist and former rugby league star Owen Craigie.
By
Owen Craigie

4 Oct 2017 - 1:05 PM  UPDATED 4 Oct 2017 - 1:08 PM

What a weekend to finish the rugby league season with – an incredible Koori Knockout and an amazing end to the NRL too.

The standard of rugby league was unbelievable at the Koori Knockout. We get to showcase our culture, the biggest cultural gathering on the globe, 30,000 Aboriginal people are there, and we really get to put rugby league on the map on a big scale over four days.

Next year, the Koori Knockout’ll be run by the Newcastle Yowies, it’s probably going to be just as good as the one up in Dubbo three years ago.

The standard is getting better and better and the quality is that good now that even the women’s competition is going through the roof. Some of those women were so good they could be playing in the men’s teams.

Congratulations to the winners, and to the Newcastle Yowies under-15s who I loved coaching.

My team come from broken homes, broken families and broken communities and like I’ve said all year, it gives our community a chance of a better lifestyle. Rugby league gives our people hope and a lot of the boys that I coached on the weekend, one day will defeinitely be NRL players.

I love coaching and a lot of the boys that I coach come from right across the state and a lot of them come from communities that we couldn’t probably live in or survive in; they come from tough times there.

For them to come out and play the way they did is amazing.

A lot of them have been coached by or signed with NRL clubs. There’s a very positive future ahead of them.

The Koori Knockout is 47 years old, next year of course 48 years. It’s a part of our blood now. People go to cultural and religious events all around the world. What we do is we attend the Koori Knockout.

It’s 47 years strong. It’s the biggest cultural gathering in Australia. So people get together and build relationships, catch up with your mob, play sport and it’s a time of celebration. It’s not a time of mourning of the past anymore. It’s a time of learning and celebrations and moving forward and through rugby league we can do that. And the Knockout’s just getting bigger and stronger.

Next year, the Koori Knockout’ll be run by the Newcastle Yowies, it’s probably going to be just as good as the one up in Dubbo three years ago.

In amongst the Knockout weekend was a great NRL grand final. And What a perfect fairytale for young Josh Addo-Carr.

Two years ago he’s playing in the Koori Knockout and then being the first try-scorer and the last try-scorer in an NRL grand final, and scoring 24, 25 times in the year and winning the premiership - what more do you want?

They were just way too classy the Storm.

Again too we see an Aboriginal player take the big stage and star. They love being big-time players on the big stage.

Josh Addo-carr, the Tigers didn’t want him last year. Now he’s the best winger in the world. The rest is history.

It caps a big year of rugby league and I suppose some of the big highlights this year are probably the Origin series and now Josh Addo-Carr winning that.

The biggest thing that we can take away from rugby league this year is that it’s inspiring all these young kids. They can now aspire to be the next Josh Addo-Carr.

It’s exciting to look at the future and the Koori Knockout will keep getting better and it can now become a bit of a business. Whoever wins the knockout will enhance their communities greatly.

But the Knockout is going strong. Rugby league in Aboriginal communities is probably bigger than it’s ever been. And we’re going to keep growing that way.

Being a part of that with Over the Black Dot this year has been great fun too.

Rollin with Rose has been awesome and a lot of our Aboriginal rugby league players and non-Aboriginal players that supported us and come on the show as guests has been a big highlight.

We’ve had coaches and we’ve had international players and Origin players and superstars of the game come on our show. So next year’s gonna be bigger and better and I think we’ve got a product there now that NITV can be very proud of and the Aboriginal communities can be very proud of as well.

What we want to do is give communities and Aboriginal people and rugby league lovers ownership of a program that they can watch and voice their community’s issues and concerns through.

Keep watching our show and keep giving our people a voice through rugby league.

Watch the 2017 Koori Knockout final replay tonight on NITV at 9pm.