St George Illawarra cult hero Nathan Blacklock has backed calls for the Auckland Nines to feature a ‘Legends’ team comprised of retired NRL superstars – and he’s keen to be involved himself.
Thirteen years may have passed since ‘Tingha’ last featured in the NRL, but the confidence and charisma could soon return to the field if the Legends team concept eventuates.
Renowned for his incredible speed and talent, and tries capped off with a backflip or three, Blacklock says his playing days – though now long retired – may not be a thing of the past.
As rumours continue to swirl that former Origin stars including Anthony Mundine and Mat Rogers are set to lace up the boots again for future instalments of the Auckland Nines, Blacklock confesses he is giddy at the thought of a comeback himself.
“Absolutely I’d love to be a part of that, with the legends, it’d bring some joy and some spark to the weekend,” Blacklock tells NSWRL.com.au.
“I’ve thought about [offering my services to the St George / Illawarra Dragons Nines], ‘Choc’ (Mundine) actually asked me about it. It’d be a bit of fun, but I wouldn’t want it to be to their detriment.
“I’d love to be a part of it, be it as a trainer or a mentor or a coach with the Dragons, it’d be a great experience, especially at the Nines level. I’d love the chance to put back into the club that gave me so much.”
Staying in touch with the game he loves as a mentor in the 2017 NSW Aboriginal Knockout Health Challenge, Blacklock is imparting the same levels of confidence he showed on the field, into the people of the Indigenous communities he leads.
The NSW Aboriginal Knockout Challenge is a joint initiative of NSW Health and NSW Rugby League, which aims to address obesity and help close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people across the state.
“It’s an opportunity for me to work with these communities, and to help them achieve their goals,” Blacklock says.
“When it comes to these people, well, most people in fact, everyone could do with a bit of advice or a helping hand at times when things get tough.
“That’s what I’m aiming to do, that’s what we do. It’s about finding the fun in the changes towards a better future.”
To the benefit of those he gives guidance, changes towards a more prosperous future stem from the lessons learned in Blacklock’s glory days. In 2015 almost 58 per cent of the NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population aged 16 years and over were overweight or obese.
“I pass on a little bit of the lessons I had learned on nutrition and exercise, but more so encouragement and confidence. Most people these days, especially a lot of these guys are parents who work, it’s about them finding time for themselves,” he says.
“Another big one for me, in what I do, is encouraging these people to be honest with themselves and their families. Honest that they have problems, but honest in the manner that they will find ways to change them.
“That’s the first step in finding a better lifestyle. It all starts there, and I’m glad to be a part of that journey in making their lives better from the outset.”