• Rabbitohs' Cody Walker seems destined for Origin, writes Timana Tahu. But does Jack Wighton? (NITV)
OPINION: Timana Tahu shares his thoughts on State of Origins hopefuls and celebrates the upcoming Indigenous round.
By
Timana Tahu

21 May 2019 - 3:46 PM  UPDATED 21 May 2019 - 3:46 PM

This weekend the NRL hosts its annual Indigenous Round.

It’s a good opportunity to celebrate for both non-Indigenous and Indigenous people, because Indigenous people get to celebrate their culture.

When we talk about Aboriginal politics and culture, there can be a negative stigma attached to it, with people confronted by our dark past. This event, however, is focusing on the positives of our culture. It's a happy, celebratory event and I think we should keep it that way.

I’m sure that this week — Friday night’s game in Newcastle, in particular — is going to be big.

In Newcastle, there are a number of Indigenous players in the Knights' side. Of course, in the Roosters too, with Latrell Mitchell.

There's an Aboriginal hostel in Newcastle called the Kirinari Hostel, which is where I grew up. So did players like Jesse Ramien, Tyrone Roberts and Greg Inglis. The Knight's collaborated with Kirinari, where the kids in the hostel have painted Aboriginal design's on the player's boots. Giving kids the opportunity to do dot painting and Aboriginal design on athletes’ boots, which is a once in a lifetime thing.  

And that's a key example of what the Indigenous round is for — it’s for the fans to celebrate Indigenous culture.

There’s so much that goes into it and showcasing the players with their Indigenous-designed jumpers and boots, and receiving a jumper with an Aboriginal design that comes from that tribe, it means a lot to those players.

It's always good to have a little more education about Indigenous culture out there too.

Generally speaking, non-Indigenous people know very little about Aboriginal culture and the mainstream pull of the NRL means this could be a start for them. If they put on the game and they see the boys run out in their jerseys and the media are running highlights on the boys’ boots and stuff, it might intrigue people to see that there’s more to Australian history than what they originally thought.

Even just people from overseas not knowing about Australian history, and it is a good educational start and it’s something that they could probably research a lot more.

 

Raiders vs. Rabbitohs: the Bunnies seem to know how to win games

From the weekend just gone, South Sydney moved to the top of the ladder with a win over Canberra, who are also a top-four team.

Canberra had a chance to win that game with a number of opportunities, but my belief is some of the younger, more inexperienced players were out of position a few times.

But that’s what happens in the big games and Rabbitohs' coach Wayne Bennett has got an experienced side this season; the Bunnies seem to know how to win games.

But, ultimately, the Rabbitohs probably wouldn’t have won without Cody Walker.

He put on a classy try, set up another one — he had his fingerprints on those points and I think that Walker is still being starved of the ball. Sam Burgess and a few of the forwards are hogging it too much. They’re too predictable, and then, when things aren't going their way, then they look to Walker to pull something out of the hat.

 

Who'll be picked for this years' State of Origin?

Cody Walker seems destined for State of Origin football and tonight on Over the Black Dot, I’m going to be diving a bit deeper into a few other players' Origin chances. 

One of those is Jack Wighton at the Raiders. When it came to the South Sydney match, he was doing certain things at an Origin level. Things that coaches like Brad Fittler would be looking at, like playing under pressure, as well as putting pressure on other players.

Another player is Kalyn Ponga, who dominated St George just on his own.

This is a young kid and this generation are gonna see another special, talented player for this era.

I'm betting he'll be the next legend of the game like a Brett Kenny, like an Andrew Johns, like a Brad Fittler and like a Darren Lockyer.

I’ll be showing a bit of analysis on what he’s going to be doing against NSW because he targeted the backrower Tyson Frizell, who is an Origin player, and he isolated him.

A lot of kids in this generation don’t know anything about Brett Kenny or Andrew Johns or Brad Fittler, but this is the next sort of player that we’re looking at.

Luke Keary’s another one we’ll have a close look at on the show tonight, so be sure to join us. As always, we’ll have a lot of fun.

 

Timana Tahu is a former rugby league, rugby union player and dual international, husband, father and a vegan advocate and panellist for NITV's Over the Black Dot

Over The Black Dot airs Tuesdays, 8.30pm on NITV (Ch. 34).