Rugby Australia hits the road in search of top First Nations talent

Thu, Mar 21, 2019, 7:00 PM
Rugby Australia
by Rugby Australia
Photo: Walmsley
Photo: Walmsley

Next week marks a major milestone for the code with members from Rugby Australia’s High-Performance team embarking on a talent ID tour to unearth Indigenous talent around the country.  

The #dreamBigTime tour kicks off Monday March 25 in Bathurst and will wind through remote regions including Walgett, Wilcannia, Coober Pedy and Alice Springs over two weeks.  

It will be one of three major talent ID tours carried out over the next three months to find the next wave of First Nations talent who will follow the likes of Kurtley Beale, Maurice Longbottom and Mahalia Murphy on the pathway to the gold jersey.    

Following the three road trips the top 130 players will be flown to Sydney for a four-day camp in July where their skills will be put to the test in front of a panel of national coaches.  

Two squads of 20 will then be chosen to represent two First Nations Sevens sides who will compete in five domestic and two international tournaments.  

Former Australian Men’s Sevens Assistant Coach Jarred Hodges has led the project with the support of Rugby Australia and the Member Unions.  

‘’Being a descendant of the First Nations People and having worked with the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team for more than two decades I am incredibly passionate about this project.

‘’Together with the Member Unions we’ve undertaken extensive research to pinpoint locations with the highest First Nations population where there is no doubt huge sporting potential.  

‘’The excitement is building in these communities and we’re expecting to engage more than 500 players aged 14-25 on the first trip.  

‘’We will also ensure this won’t be a one-off visit as we will work with the Member Unions to re-visit each of these communities and keep tapping into existing talent,’’ said Hodges.  

Qantas Wallabies legend Glen Ella will also be joining the #dreamBigTime tour and said linking communities with the High-Performance team has been a vision of his for a long time.  

‘’I’m confident we will uncover some incredible talent as we know First Nations Peoples are a natural fit for Sevens who can run fast and find space.  

‘’This is the only footy code in the country which offers international exposure and one where you can be fast-tracked to the top in just a matter of months.  

‘’Our long-term goal for this project will be to have at least two players join the Australian Sevens squads for the 2024 Olympics which is looking promising,’’ said Ella.  

Rugby Australia has also partnered with the Aboriginal Medical Services in each of the towns to promote the importance of keeping healthy both on and off the field.  

Schedule for tour one:

Monday March 25
Bathurst, NSW
Orange, NSW

Tuesday March 26
Dubbo, NSW

Wednesday March 27
Walgett, NSW
Brewarrina, NSW

Thursday March 28
Bourke, NSW
Nyngan, NSW
Cobar, NSW

Friday March 29
Wilcannia, NSW
Broken Hill, NSW

Saturday March 30
Port Augusta, SA

Sunday March 31
Coober Pedy, SA

Monday April 1
Erldunda, NT

Tuesday April 2
Uluru, NT

Wednesday April 3
Uluru, NT

Thursday April 4
Alice Springs, NT

Friday April 5
Alice Springs, NT