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It was well worth the trip to Raymond Terrace for the North Yuin Snakes who clinched the 2015 Nations of Origin Cup with a thrilling 22-16 Final victory against Dunghutti on Thursday.

The Snakes travelled six hours on Tuesday to return for this year’s Nations of Origin looking to advance further than last year’s semi-final result and coach Senior Constable Nathan Wood is ecstatic with the team’s performance.

“It’s been a long trip but it’s certainly been worth it,” said Wood. “We’ll definitely enjoy the bus trip back home now.”

Over 750 male and female players in 62 teams travelled the distance to be part of the jam-packed two-day Sevens tournament at Raymond Terrace in support of Indigenous reconciliation, as well as promote gender equality.

The Snakes weren’t the only team that came from far and wide to take part in the PCYC Nations of Origin Tournament.

With 62 Under-16s teams each representing Aboriginal Nations in NSW, sides such as the Snakes, Bundjalung Goannas and Ngemba Yellowbelly Fish came from as far as Tweed Heads, Brewarrina and Goulburn.

As well as creating awareness of Indigenous culture, Nations of Origin serves as an incredible experience for many young players in terms of their development both on and off the field.

“Rugby league teaches self belief, confidence and resilience,” said Budjalung Goannas coach Suellen Pursche. “Our team is built on commitment and dedication.”

The Goannas travelled eight long hours by PCYC bus from far-north NSW stopping on the way – via locations such as Lismore and Macleay – to pick up 24 players for their male and female teams.

Pursche is proud to be part of the Nations of Origin and attests to the importance of the tournament, not just for promoting cultural unity but also to promote gender equality.

“People think they’re just girls,” Pursche said. “There’s lots of Barbie girls who do their hair and worry about how they look but they can be incredibly physical once they get out on the field.

“It’s fantastic that the girls get to show their skills. If people watch, they’re blown away by their ability and commitment on the field.”

The Ngemba Yellowbelly Fish also took an 11-hour exodus on Monday in what has been a revealing journey for the young men.

“It’s definitely an eye opener,” Yellowbelly Fish Assistant Manager Brendon Willoughby said. “A lot of these boys haven’t travelled far, let alone even seen the ocean.”

No matter how far they’ve come, the trip was definitely worth it for everyone involved at Nations of Origin.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.