One of the largest Indigenous sporting events in Australia – the Koori Knockout – kicks off on the NSW Central Coast on Friday.
This year’s NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout will be held over the October long weekend at the Central Coast Regional Sporting and Recreation Complex.
The $23.7 million facility was opened in the suburb of Tuggerah only six months ago.
The Central Coast Council won the bid to host the tournament in partnership with last year’s titleholders, the Newcastle All Blacks.
It is also supported by the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council.
The four-day event showcases some of the best Indigenous rugby league talent in Australia and holds an important place on the local sporting calendar.
A total of 64 men's, 20 women's and 79 youth sides are expected to take to the field with thousands of spectators watching from the sidelines.
The Moree Boomerangs, Newcastle Yowies, Narwan Eels, Griffith Three Ways United and Bundjalung Baygal Warriors are tipped to be among the teams to beat.
The draws for the tournament will be released on Wednesday night.
The Koori Knockout will air live on NITV on October 6, 9am-5pm, and live on both NITV and SBS on October 7, 9am - 5.30pm.
Cronulla Sharks prop Andrew Fifita will headline the NRL talent at the tournament.
Appearances of other professional players - including Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr, Jimmy Roberts and Cody Walker - will hinge on whether their teams make the NRL grand final.
Fifita - who has been a fixture at the tournament over the last 10 years - says the Knockout allows him to unwind and simply enjoy the game.
"Our footy is a bit different compared to your normal footy. We've got a bit more flair, we love the speed to run around things," he told NRL.com.
"For myself, it's just to give back to my family and give back to my friends."