Australia Indigenous All Stars keen to replace Kangaroos in rugby league World Cup

09:30  30 july  2021
09:30  30 july  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Indigenous All Stars player Josh Kerr has called on the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) to send an Indigenous side in place of the Kangaroos to the World Cup later this year.

Last week, the ARLC and New Zealand Rugby League announced they were pulling out of the tournament "because of player welfare and safety concerns" surrounding the COVID-19 situation in the United Kingdom.

Kerr said it could be the perfect opportunity for the Indigenous All Stars.

"We were always talking about it in camp, about how mad it would be if we had an Indigenous All Stars team in the World Cup to see how well we would go," he said.

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"Lo and behold, Australia and New Zealand pull out of the World Cup, and straight away on our group chat it was, 'how good would that idea be if we can put it forward?'.

"Next thing, it sort of caught fire and every man and his dog wanted to jump onboard."

Kerr also said the opportunity to represent his culture outweighed any concerns surrounding the pandemic.

"A lot of people wouldn't understand that, they are worried about COVID … but straight away all the boys were super keen because they know what it means for our community and our people," he said.

"We just want to play and represent our culture, and what better way to do that than on the world stage itself?

"But fingers crossed, it's crazy times and I hope we can get it in.

"When I got to represent the Indigenous All Stars it was a dream come true for me and my family … I am shaking and sweating just thinking about it, let's get behind it, let's sign a petition to get it going."

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'Too great a risk'

ARLC chairman Peter V'Landys said last week the pandemic posed too great a risk to players and officials.

"In the current environment, the risks to the safety, health and wellbeing of the players and officials travelling from Australia to participate in the tournament this year are insurmountable," Mr V'landys said.

He also said there were concerns about player welfare after living in the rugby bubble for an extended period.

"The majority of NRL players are currently living away from home under difficult biosecurity protocols," he said.

"They would then be required to remain under protocols and away from home for the duration of the tournament before again quarantining on return to Australia.

"This is too much to ask our players and officials to do."

The NRL season is set to wrap up in early October, and England is supposed to be hosting 16 teams for a World Cup running from October 23 to November 27.

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