• Owen Craigie gives a reviews the past week in rugby (NITV)Source: NITV
Watching the Indigenous All-Stars play could become as exciting as watching the Harlem Globetrotters, says Over the Black Dot co-host Owen Craigie.
Owen Craigie

17 Apr 2018 - 1:59 PM  UPDATED 17 Apr 2018 - 2:03 PM

There’s been a changing of the guard with the success of certain teams and it’s time that continued in the representative scene too.

Now is the perfect time to increase the Indigenous All Stars concept and have more Test matches involving the Indigenous side.

Now we’ve got the NRL Aboriginal workers and officers at the clubs and we’ve got all of the Indigenous All Stars camps.

If some of the players get picked to play in the Origin teams in the middle of the year, then that’s great and it's up to them to play. But if they don’t pick guys like Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker, Tyrone Peachey or Jimmy "the Jet" Roberts, let them play.

Watching the Indigenous All Stars in a mid-year Test against a Fiji or a Tonga or whoever, it would be like watching the Harlem Globetrotters back in action again. There’d be speed, there’d be excitement, there’d be skill. Everything you love about the game you’ll see.

On the back of such a great World Cup last year, which an Aboriginal team would have won if there was one, Andrew Fifita has said he’s keeping his allegiance to Tonga. I think it’s a great move.

It’s a brilliant move because you can go and play for NSW and Australia and he’s achieved all that, he’s done that.

But his time in rugby league now is to give back to his people and to give back to his culture and enhance the lives of all the other kids in Tonga. And that’s the presence that he’s got to do that.

And I know people are like ‘Ahh well he’s turned back on NSW and this and that’, but, oi, NSW can spit him out and chew him up like they have with a lot of other players. We’re talking about cultural significance here, not talking about an Origin series, and we’re talkin' about what that cultural significance means.

That’s why all these boys played for Tonga in the World Cup, because they want to enhance the lives of people in the Polynesian countries and cultural backgrounds, and tell them to reach for the stars, because they’re putting Tonga on the map in the World Cup. That's the opportunity that rugby league gives to them.

But now people are getting the shits saying, ‘oh he turned his back on Australia’. Well, he didn’t really turn his back on Australia for the wrong reasons, he’s "turned it" for cultural significance, and it's the biggest sign of respect that any player could do — to give back to their community.

That’s what it was all about with the Indigenous All Stars too, it was about encouraging young boys and girls from all different cultural backgrounds, to participate in the game of rugby league.

And the game has grown so much from the All Stars, that it’s now got an effect on these Polynesian countries, which now has an impact on them making decisions on who they play for in rep, which now makes a decision that can enhance the lives and give all these other kids hope to play football.

I think when Artie Beetson was alive, one of Artie’s goals was to have an Australian Kangaroos team and an Aboriginal Australian team and call it the Reconciliation Cup. But for some reason it got knocked on the head.

I reckon we can still have something, called the Reconciliation Test or something? But it all depends on timing - if they’re not gonna pick these guys in the NSW or Queensland sides in the middle of the year, or then give them a shot in the Kangaroos squad at the end of the season, well let’s pick them for an Indigenous Australian side to play the Australian Kangaroos as a means of Reconciliation.

There's even potential to have a tri series with Tonga or whoever. Because these kids abroad need to taste rep football at the highest level, because they deserve it. 

It’s not about black versus white, it’s about showing the game has come so far forward and the progress we’re making culturally for all people.

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