Cronulla Sharks star Andrew Fifita has sensationally claimed that rugby league officials attempted to scuttle this weekend’s Koori Knockout at Dubbo.
The NSW Aboriginal rugby league carnival requires approval from NSWRL who provide public liability insurance and certified referees.
The tournament, which is organised at a community club level, was officially sanctioned during a last-minute review on Tuesday afternoon.
In a statement posted to Instagram, Fifita suggested the event was at risk of being cancelled.
"Clearly you can’t hold a tournament without referees. What a disgrace that our game and 48 years of Aboriginal culture and history are on the verge of being destroyed. And for what? So NSWRL can 'play politics'," he said.
"The KO belongs to the Aboriginal community - not to a governing body!
“Give the KO back to our people and let us play!”
The statement by Fifita, who will represent the Griffith Three Ways at the Knockout, was 'liked' by more than 6000 people.
This year’s Koori Knockout will be hosted by the Newcastle Yowies, who won the organising rights by winning the event last year.
The NSWRL claim the club submitted paperwork for the event to be sanctioned only three days from kick-off.
“Our Board has been convened to review the application this afternoon,” a spokeswoman told NITV News.
"The Newcastle Yowies' had not even submitted an application for the event to be sanctioned at the time of the posts."
The Koori Knockout is expected to draw more than 30,000 visitors to Apex Oval in Dubbo this weekend.
The 2018 Koori Knockout airs 9am Sunday and 9am Monday on NITV (Ch. 34). NITV will also broadcast live matches on Facebook from Friday to Monday.