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For the first time in more than 50 years – not since the 1966 Grand Final between St George and Balmain – players will shake hands before a First-Grade match at Sunday’s annual AAMI Country-City clash in Tamworth (8 May).

Not since Rugby League legends like John Raper, Graeme Langlands and Billy Smith, shook hands on halfway with Keith Barnes, Artie Beetson and Dave Bolton, have First-Grade players lined-up to shake hands before a match.

Led by skippers Chris Lawrence (City) and James Maloney (Country), the two sides will this Sunday shake hands on half-way before battling it out for NSW bragging rights.

NSWRL’s latest implementation follows a number of "Respect" protocols already introduced this year to ensure players and coaches preserve a strong relationship with referees, opponents and all officials and spectators.

From Under-6s to NSWRL’s premier competition, Intrust Super Premiership NSW, players are required to shake the hands of their opponents as well as the referees in a bid to set a good example for those coming through the ranks.

Already this year Junior League participants - including players, coaches, trainers, managers, volunteers, match and club officials – have been encouraged to take the NSWRL Junior League Respect Pledge.

The pledge outlines the fundamentals of our great game as participants promise to act in a manner that displays the core values of excellence, inclusiveness, courage, teamwork and respect.

NSWRL CEO David Trodden said: “This is a fantastic move and we are confident these new practices will strengthen the respect not only referees warrant, but players, coaches and also spectators.

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.

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