Laurie Daley coaching the Indigenous All Stars team.
Laurie Daley coaching the Indigenous All Stars team.

Loz’s radical indigenous World Cup idea

LAURIE Daley wants to see an indigenous side play in the Pacific Tests or even join them in future Rugby League World Cups.

The Pacific island nations - led by Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Papua New Guinea - have been the success stories of this year's World Cup.

The Fijians and Tongans have made the semi-finals.

The Tonga-Samoa clash was one of the 2017 tournament highlights, while this year's Pacific Test triple-header sold out Campbelltown Stadium on the representative weekend. It will be repeated next season.

About 48 per cent of NRL players have Pacific Islander backgrounds, while 12 per cent also have indigenous roots.

And Daley, who has coached the Indigenous All Stars since 2011, wants to see them joined in competition on the football field.

"There will be an opportunity one day for these indigenous players to maybe take on the Pacific Islands in a Test of their own," Daley said.

Laurie Daley coaching the Indigenous All Stars team.
Laurie Daley coaching the Indigenous All Stars team.

"I think that will be something that will be looked at down the track. That's always been spoken about; whether it happens or not, I'm not quite sure.

"This game is something the indigenous boys love participating in. There are a number of indigenous players in the NRL and they love to pull on the shirt."

The World Cup means the annual Indigenous All Stars game will be replaced next year by a week-long festival, with the regular match to return in 2019.

Male and female indigenous players - not signed by NRL clubs - will play their Maori counterparts on February 10 at Redfern Oval as part of the 2018 festival.

Daley, again coaching the First Nation Goannas, said he'd like to see an indigenous side in future World Cups as long as it didn't take players from the Kangaroos.

"You don't want to create divisions in terms of representing Australia at the highest level and having the indigenous team," Daley said.

"But maybe if you have a selection of everyone all in for the Australian team, and then the people who haven't been selected, if the numbers are there to make up the Indigenous All Stars side, then why not?

"We've seen the interest that (Jason) Taumalolo and (Andrew) Fifita have created by pledging their allegiance to Tonga."