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Fittler to train next generation of Indigenous stars

Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler will put the next generation of Indigenous Rugby League stars through their paces at the KARI Foundation Talented Aboriginal Athletes Program (TAAP) camp at Ignite HQ Centre of Excellence on Friday 25 November.

Fittler will be joined by Indigenous legends Ron Gibbs, Nathan Blacklock and Dean Widders and recently appointed NRL Indigenous All Stars coach Ron Griffiths, who has taken over from True Blue and former Origin coach Laurie Daley for next February’s All Stars game against Maori.

The three-day camp will also act as a selection trial for a NSW Under 16s Koori team to face a Queensland Under 16s Murri team on 28 January in Brisbane. The TAAP camp has been running for more than 15 years but has not been held since 2019 due to the COVID pandemic.

The camp will bring together 40 boys aged under 16 from across the state; 20 from regional centres like Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Wagga, Leeton, Mogo, Batemans Bay, Warialda, Quirindi, Dubbo, Gilgandra and 20 from Sydney metropolitan areas, the Hunter and Illawarra.

The participants include two Indigenous teenagers, who relocated to Taree after riding camels from Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.

The camp is run in conjunction with NSWRL community partner, the KARI Foundation.

“It is important we provide culturally appropriate talent pathways for our youth,” KARI Foundation CEO Casey Ralph said.

“KARI Foundation is proud to partner with NSWRL and the Talented Aboriginal Athlete Program ensuring young Aboriginal athletes have the support they need to succeed.”

Griffiths, who most recently coached the Newcastle Knights NRLW team to a maiden Premiership, will help with the skills, fitness, and training sessions throughout the weekend.

NSWRL’s Officiating Development Coordinator, Gavin Badger, is bringing eight Indigenous referees from around the State to take part in a referees’ camp in tandem with the TAAP camp.

The referees will take charge of the scrimmages over the three days, engage in the group education sessions as well as officiate the selection trial game on Sunday.