Timana Tahu is looking forward to watching the talent on show at the Festival of Indigenous Rugby League this weekend and believes the experience could open doors in the NRL for the up-and-coming players.
“I think it’s a good experience especially for some of the blokes who are maybe looking to have a crack in the NRL,” Tahu said.
“My message to them would be play your best, because you never know who’s watching, who might like your style or like the way you play.
“You can easily get picked up like that. For the players who put in the most, you never know your luck."
Tahu will have his own involvement in the Festival as the captain coach of the Newcastle Yowies, the champions of the 2013 Koori Knockout competition.
The winners of the NSW Koori Knockout and QLD Murri Knockout will match up on Friday to determine the strongest side in the Inter-State Challenge.
Tahu will lead the team as coach for Saturday's game as he's unfit to play after he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament playing in the Koori Knockout at Raymond Terrace last October.
Thankfully, he's made a remarkably quick recovery thanks to revolutionary surgery, and is hoping to be back on the field during the 2014 season.
Tahu explained a few of the Yowies teammates have made selection in the First Nations Goannas side to play the Newcastle Knights on Saturday at Hunter Stadium.
“I know what I’m expecting and I think it’s going to be a good weekend," he says.
The 33-year old reflected on his own development as a player and listed the likes of the Steve Renouf, Laurie Daley, and Ruben Wiki as NRL players he looked up to in his young playing days.
“I was lucky enough to play against Laurie at one time and Ruben as well,” he said.
“It was a bit weird coming up as a young fella. You watch those kind of players and they’re your idols, and the next things you’re playing up against them.
“You do get star struck.
“It was a weird experience, but a good one."
Tahu believes the First Nations Goannas representatives will prosper under Laurie Daley as coach.
“Loz (Daley) is a really good coach," he enthuses.
"I’ve had him in Country and Origin, and with the All Stars as well.
“He coaches the way he would play.
“He’s really intense. You get some really intense coaches but the way he talks is like he wants to go out and play.
“He fires you up a little bit. I think it’s going to be a good experience.
“A lot of those blokes would have watched Loz in his playing days. He was a great captain and a great leader.
“I’m looking forward to the boys getting a chance to be coached by a legend."
Tahu is pleased the Festival is hosted in Newcastle and thinks it’s important to celebrate and recognise Indigenous culture in Rugby League.
“There are a lot of great Indigenous players that play the game," he says.
“A lot of our kids are reared up on playing rugby league all through the country outback towns.
“That’s all kids talk about, they want to play NRL football.
“Even in some places where they can’t play football because there’s not enough money, or funding, they’re in front of the TV box watching the Friday night game watching their favourite players.
"A lot of NRL players are role models for our Indigenous players. Sport plays a big part in our lives."
Tahu is looking forward to seeing what the up-and-coming talent has to offer and said the Festival of Indigenous Rugby League is a great opportunity for people to see some great quality football.
“It is a community event and it's not just about the Indigenous.
It’s all about people coming and having a look at talent.
“It’s a family event so bring the kids along and have a good time. It's a festival so it's going to be fun."
Tickets are on sale now for the Festival of Indigenous Rugby League. CLICK HERE to purchase tickets now.
• General admission: Adults $18, Children $8, Family $45
• Reserved: Adults $25, Children $15, Family $65