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The support I got from my mum Pam and dad Jake was really important. They used to come down after work on a Friday, watch my games and then travel home afterwards.


The game has come a long way in player welfare. Even in the clubs back then, there was nothing around wellbeing support or education support. It was just ‘come down and do your best’.


I think the things I was doing and the leadership I was showing when I was playing, helped the role to be created.


There is a lot of support at the clubs now. If young kids come down and have issues and problems, there’s plenty of help and the issues are taken very seriously.


There’s a lot more understanding at club level of the difference in dealing with young Indigenous players and how to support and understand them better. That’s the same for the Pacific Islander and Polynesian players.


My favourite memories are the car rides with Artie. He’d be ringing Ron Massey, Jack Gibson, Ronnie Coote, Johnny Raper. He’d call some of the biggest names in the game and I would sit there and listen in on these conversations.


There’s also a bigger support network in the playing group now. A lot of experienced Indigenous players look out for the younger players, they connect with each other a lot more, and more easily, through social media.


You leave your community, wherever that may be, but you’ll find a whole community of Indigenous players here who will support you and back you once you come into the elite pathway.


Guys like Preston Campbell, Matt Bowen and Johnathan Thurston started a lot of that along with guys like Greg Inglis and Andrew Fifita. Even Latrell Mitchell now is trying to drive the culture and making sure Indigenous players feel good about what they’re doing.


Josh Addo-Carr is another. Young players who are making a big effort now to make a difference for the next generation. That’s really pleasing.





I was the victim of racial abuse in an NRL game in 2005. In the aftermath of that I thought the best way of dealing with it is with sensitivity, care and education. Not anger or aggression or hate because that won’t get you anywhere, it will just keep people divided on either side of the fence.


You want to try to educate people and show what damage racism can do. That’s when people learn and start to change their ways, and maybe become advocates of change in other people.


Racism is still a terrible thing in Australia, and something we all need to work hard to change.


I think people should be brought together when you are dealing with these things. It’s not that easy of course, when someone has said something to you that’s really hurtful and damaging.


But I think it’s important to come together and come up with a solution, or at least educate the person why it hurt so much.


It’s what I don’t like about what’s still going on with Adam Goodes. They need someone with the power to get Adam Goodes and Sam Newman and Eddie McGuire in a room, have a chat. They might not come out in 100 per cent agreement but at least they’ll come a little closer to each other. The way it is, is just all negative.





It took a long time for people to open their minds up to the fact Aboriginals could play at the very top level and succeed with their style of play.


It was a way of thinking. Often an unconscious bias. People don’t realise they’re thinking a certain way and they’re not opening their minds up to opportunities.


Anthony Mundine was one of the greatest five-eighths in the game but he was never recognised in high representative teams.


Stan Grant says this a lot: Minorities are okay and we love them for their achievements but if they start talking too much about inequalities or injustice, that’s when they get put in a box or we turn on them.


Anthony Mundine has always been one of those people. He’s always stood up and said what needed to be said.


He’s one of my favourite people in the world. Doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, never treats anyone in the world with bad intentions or disrespect. When you meet him, he’s the nicest fella you’ll ever meet.



He was important to me when I first moved down. Him and Wes Patten, they would always come up to you and talk to you.


It didn’t matter that they didn’t know who you were. They wanted to get to know you, wanted to give you confidence. They told you to train hard, stay away from drugs and alcohol and the bad things in Sydney.


They were in first grade and I was just a young kid, but we’d catch up and they always had time for me to teach me how to believe in myself.


Anthony’s always been like that. I’ve seen him do so many kind things. He’s one of the greatest people I know. And it’s sad in Australia because he stepped outside of that box and spoke up on a lot of issues, so a lot of people can’t stand him.


In Aboriginal Australia, we need a lot of people fighting fights on all different levels.


We need the ones who are a bit radical and outspoken and the ones that work with people – don’t say too much but go about their business quietly. We need ones that build relationships.


Because we have a big battle on our hands, we need people at all levels, so our kids can get equal opportunities.


It’s much better than when I came through. There are a lot more people out there now who are understanding and caring. We’ve come so far and we continue to stand up for things in society and do great things in the community. It gives everyone a chance to be better tomorrow.


The things I see with young kinds and how they think, I believe Australia will be such a better place in the next generation. There’s still a long way to go but it’s great that we are taking steps forward.





Rugby league is full of wonderful people and Russell Crowe is one of the greatest you’ll meet.


He has always been supportive of all the boys who have come through the Rabbitohs in his time and I got on so well with him from day one, made a connection straightaway.


Russell’s got this great property up there near Coffs Harbour. It’s surrounded by nature and is like a spiritual healing place.


I took Uncle Bill down to Russell’s house at a time he was really struggling. He was able to relax and enjoy the peace up there. It really picked his energy up, made him feel good and got him ready to face the challenge.


He actually overcame his cancer for a while after that. They thought they’d got rid of it. It obviously came back later but that was the start of a really positive period for my uncle.



He was a crazy Souths Sydney fan, my Uncle Bill. In the ’80s, when no one went for Souths, I had two uncles and they were both crazy for them.


When Souths were kicked out of the comp, Bill was heartbroken. He was one of those fellas who stopped watching and supporting rugby league altogether a while.


But he never lost his love for them.


For him to be at the owner’s house, and for all the things Russell did to help save Souths, that was huge for him.


His wish was he just wanted to see South Sydney win another premiership before he died and Russell helped give him that wish in 2014.


He said, ‘this is the man that made my life’s dream come true’.


For over 15 years, Men of League has provided assistance to the men, women and children of the rugby league community through the delivery of physical, financial and emotional support. They want you get in touch if you know someone they may be able to assist.


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