• James Tedesco of the Roosters gets past Dylan Napa of the Bulldogs to score a try. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images) (Getty Images AsiaPac)Source: Getty Images AsiaPac
Black Lives Matter protests, fans allowed back in to stadiums and Sydney Roosters vs Parramatta Eels in Round 6.
Timana Tahu

Over the Black Dot
19 Jun 2020 - 10:24 PM  UPDATED 19 Jun 2020 - 10:24 PM

Black Lives Matter

It’s been a big few weeks. Emotions are running high not just here in Australia, but across the globe. I don’t think there would’ve been a black person that was not affected in some way by the Black Lives Matter movement. It was awesome to see the amount of people that turned up and protested here in Australia, not just black people but all diversities. As a black person it was good to feel the support, that’s what we need.

I’ve heard the question asked by non- black people, how can we help? Turning up and marching with us is a start. The prejudice and discrimination that Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people face daily here in Australia has not gotten better at all, and it can’t just be black people fighting for black issues all the time - we need other diversities to stand up with us and say NO to racism, that’s how change will start to take place.

It’s about having a level playing field. That’s what I like about the game. When athletes are on the field we are all equal, it does not matter about your race or religion, we are given the same set of rules, and as black people when we are given the same set of rules, we have proven to be very successful on the field. But once we walk off the field, it's different for an Indigenous athlete, we have not been given the same set of rules off the field.

We don’t see equal living standards, the jails are overpopulated with Indigenous people, and there are a high number of Indigenous children that have been removed from their family. This clearly illustrates that we are not moving forward together as a nation because these issues are still not being addressed.

It’s great to see athletes and the sporting teams support this movement, because they have so much influence. Watching the Souths and Titan boys take a knee, watching them make that statement, that they are stamping out racism and it's not going to be a part of the game was a powerful moment. I commend all players, not just the Indigenous players, but all. The players have just come back from such a struggle with the COVID-19 and the possibilities of the game being put on pause, job losses and pay cuts, and to see them all stand together in this was a big move, I was proud. It’s been an emotional few weeks but it’s positive to see the players taking this stand and others fighting with us.

Fans back at stadiums

We're starting to see progress on the crowd restrictions due to Covid-19, and the NRL commissioners are doing an awesome job leading the way, especially in Australia, and I’m proud as a rugby league fan and an ex-player to see this. There's been a few debacles in the other sports codes, and it seems that the NRL are taking the lead in this area.

The NRL ran a great marketing campaign, having fans send in photos of themselves and putting cardboard cut-outs of those photos in the grandstands, and I imagine as a fan that it would've been an awesome feeling to see yourself in the grandstand during the broadcast.

But the reality is that actually being at the game is not only great for the fans, but has a huge impact on the players as well. It works both ways. 

When you're running out to no crowd, it's hard to be motivated to perform.

I remember playing in New South Wales Cup at the back end of my years and running out to only a couple of hundred people, and it was quiet. It was demotivating.

Usually when you're playing first grade and you're feeling flat and tired, the adrenaline would kick in once you would see the crowd rock up. Playing in front of anywhere between 10,000 to 60,000 people, that's what got you ready and you could go out and perform.

So I'm looking forward to July 1st, seeing more people in the grounds.

Roosters vs Parramatta game this week

This Saturday night the Roosters vs Parramatta is going to be a cracking game. I think it's going to be the game of the round.

The Roosters have put on over 100 points since the teams have got back in.

A lot of people are talking about a three-peat for the Roosters. There are teams that have got good players on paper, but are not performing, but you see the Roosters and you see a coach like Trent Robinson and it seems that his approach to the game is quite different than other coaches. And I like it, especially how he manages his players. He looks for their strengths and brings it into the side and helps them perform, not only as an individual but also as a team. It seems like his system is successful as they're the best at the moment. They've won two grand finals in the last two years and it looks like the way they're playing, they're going for another one.

They were good in the old rules, and it looks like they're even better in the new rules of the game, with the speed of the ruck and the six-again.

Parramatta are a talented side, there's a lot of hype around them. And there's a lot of Parramatta fans out there who are very passionate supporters. It's been a long time since Parra has won a grand final. To me, at the moment though, I don't think they're a grand final winning team.

I still feel like they've got a year or two to go, that they're missing some experienced players in key positions. They've been playing really good football, but I feel like that there's times where they don't know how to control the game or finish it off. They've still got a lot to fix in those departments. I think this game will be the test for Parramatta, seeing those key players that are the leaders in the team, and how they perform up against the powerhouse Roosters will show whether they're going to be real deal grand final contenders. 

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