• The Titans are ready for the 2017 Koori Knockout. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
The Illawarra Titans are headed to the Knockout to compete and NITV News caught up with the club to see how their preparations are coming along.
Kris Flanders

28 Sep 2017 - 2:29 PM  UPDATED 28 Sep 2017 - 4:34 PM

The annual NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout, also known as the Koori Knockout, begins tomorrow.

Held at Sydney's Leichhardt Oval, the comp will kick off with the junior divisions.

For the best part of the last decade, the Titans have been representing the Illawarra region on the south coast of NSW.

Club chairman and player, Rod Broad believes the Titans are in the best position they've ever had ...but it's been a labour of love for all involved with the club to get where it is today.

"It was all about providing stability and structure for our younger kids coming through," he told NITV News.

"It's one thing that I've worked hard on and I'd like to see get better obviously over the years. The Illawarra never had that identity, you know, the south coast they were hit and miss from time to time, there was nothing around. What we've tried to do down here in Wollongong and with the Illawarra Titans, in particular, is develop a nice style of football."

The Titans will have four sides competing in the NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout, three junior sides and a men’s team.

Joshua Uta, who has an Aboriginal and Polynesian background, played with the Titans 17's squad last year will step up and play the 2017 KO in the senior mens side.

"Yeah it's going to be good, I don't know what to expect, obviously like last weekend there was a few teams from down the coast playing in the Kids In Care Cup, pretty tough footy," says Uta.

"So should be a tough one this week so looking forward to it. It's good being involved with the Titans, they're a good organisation. Few different fellas come in now and then but as long as we come together as one at the end of the day - that's all that matters I guess."

Rod says there's a real sense of pride in the jersey and the people they're representing.

"This is why we do a lot of development with the younger kids these days is to help them with their dreams. Aspire and go onto play NRL, so if we can nurture that and guide them in the right direction well then back down the track that we gain." 

A fortnight ago, the Illawarra Titans hosted their annual Kids In Care Cup.

Since 2013, the event has helped to promote the importance of foster care and encourages our mob to become foster carers.

It also doubles as a "good hit-out" leading into the Koori Knockout says Rod.

"With the Kids In Care Cup, you know, we don't go after massive numbers. It's not a straight knockout, it's actually a double elimination, so we have an eight team cap which we got the eight teams again this year. You know, it lets everyone have the opportunity to fine tune not just our team but their teams as well."

In Koori Knockouts gone by, the overall winners usually have the benefit of playing together as a side during their respective Group Divisions throughout the year.

The majority of the players making up this year’s Illawarra Titans KKO squad had the rare chance of playing together week in-week out, says Rod.

"That's something we've never had, we've just been getting blokes left, right and centre and you know, it's hard to come together, last minute. But this year behind the Illawarra Titans we've got a close family side that have been out of the competition for nine years, which we called Mt. Warrigal Kooris United."

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"The boys actually won the grand final last weekend so there's a bit of a buzz, but everyone is just riding off the back into that so I'm expecting a good showing this year." 

The Titans will be in tip-top shape for this weekend's Koori Knockout - as the men's side played a Corrective Services outfit at the annual Graeme Donnelly Memorial Cup day.

Donnelly is a fallen member of the NSW Police Force and Rod Broad says, to be involved in the competition was something the Titans have worked towards.

"We can do things together and that's what it's about for me. When we do work together, good things can happen and that happened today."

"Their captain at the end of the game, he said that we were probably one of the most respected sides that they've ever come across. For me, that's an honour hearing that sort of stuff and I'm very proud to hear that the group that I take out are representing this area well."

Peter Barrie, assistant commander southern region NSW Police says that police participation helps build bridges into the community.

"Our local commanders have been talking to our local Indigenous community about our accord and what the issues are there that we want to take forward," he said.

"And then today we're putting together on the sporting field, we're all coming together. It's significant for us, it's significant for our local police and our local Indigenous community. Things like that the paying of respects and mutual respect, I guess, for one another."

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What makes the Koori Knockout so special is that every year, many players will lace up the boots to play for the very first time at a KO... thus continuing a great tradition.

All the action from the Koori Knockout 2017 will be broadcast: Online NITV Facebook 29th Sept - 2nd October (Friday to Monday) and On-air on Channel 34 1st- 2nd October (Sunday & Monday). 

Catch up with all the action via SBS On Demand after the broadcast.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using #KooriKnockout