• Owen Craigie gives a reviews the past week in rugby (NITV)Source: NITV
Aboriginal players are set to star in rugby league’s State of Origin Series, so expect fireworks at the MCG says former premiership player and Over the Black Dot co-host Owen Craigie.
By
Owen Craigie

5 Jun 2018 - 5:10 PM  UPDATED 5 Jun 2018 - 5:10 PM

Not A Game To Miss

The best rugby league players in Australia will go to battle on Wednesday night and the best of those this year are Aboriginal footballers. They’re gonna turn it on, there’s gonna be fireworks and whether your team wins, loses or draws you’re gonna see some great football.

 

The Rise of Latrell Mitchell

The record number of Indigenous players is very special and I applaud NSW coach Freddy Fittler for giving these guys the opportunity. Not because they’re Indigenous but for picking them purely on their performance. They’ll rise to the big stage and there’s one player in particular that I think, if NSW win the series, he’ll be player of the series. That’s Latrell Mitchell.

 

He’s a major x-factor, a big-time player, 20 years of age; the kid’s a monster. He’s got the speed and fast feet, and people say he’s gonna be the next Greg Inglis.

I think that’s wrong - he’s gonna be the first Latrell Mitchell.

In his own right, the kid can stand up and can play and deliver. He’s built for the big stage. There’s gonna be fireworks when he gets the ball.

 

Indigenous Greatness throughout Origin

History tells you that we as Aboriginal people, we are naturally hunters and gatherers, so we’ve got good anticipation, we’ve got good hand-eye coordination. We’ve got great speed and we’ve got great balance. Once you get professional training and put a football in some of these guys’ hands, they’re the world’s best.

Look at Queensland captain Greg Inglis - he’s the most prolific Origin try-scorer of all time.

You look at former star Artie Beetson. An Aboriginal guy and he’s the only player in history to captain both NSW and Queensland. 

And you look right now how far the game’s come, we’ve got something like seven Aboriginal people playing in this game. On Wednesday night, we’ll see something pretty special. Queensland will still be competitive. I think it’ll be a 3-0 clean sweep to NSW though.

It’s the most prolific point-scoring NSW side that probably I’ve ever seen.

If you haven’t watched State of Origin before, do yourself a favour and sit down and watch the game because it’ll be one of the best Origin series that you’ll ever see. There’s gonna be plenty of points, plenty of skill on showcase and you can see Josh Addo-Carr and Greg Inglis and Latrell Mitchell and Jimmy the Jet all in action.

They’ve all got speed, they’ve all got skill and it’s a bit like watching the Harlem Globetrotters. Sit down, strap yourself in and enjoy the game. You’ll also see some of the best role models young kids could hope for.

 

Indigenous Excellence in NRL

For any Aboriginal person to make it in life, let alone rugby league, we have to be two, three, four, five times better than the average person next to you. Because we come from broken communities and broken families. We’ve grown up in a life where we come from low socio-economic backgrounds with crime and drugs and alcohol and DV.

For Aboriginal people to make it and shine on the biggest stage in the greatest game of all time - take your heart of to all of them. They’ve made it. Everyone out there should be inspired on Wednesday night.

It’s great to see too that these guys who come through the system now have got better infrastructure both on the field and off the field. The NRL and the NRL welfare teams have done a great job putting a number of things in place and there are some all-stars involved. 

It’s something we never had in my era coming through. We got a handshake, a pat on the back and a ‘go and score some tries’. Now, the personal development of someone is not only on the field, it’s off the field as well.

It shows with these players today, they’re being a lot smarter with their money and they’re performing well.

We’re seeing a bit of a changing of the guard. We’ve got a lot more Aboriginal players coming through now and eventually we’ll have Aboriginal engagement officers and welfare officers in every NRL club.

We’ve still got a long way to go but we’ve made so much progress as well.

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