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Craig Dawson doesn’t need to look far to find the value of having True Blues visit his home town of Glen Innes. He can see the beaming smile on his son Riley’s face.

Dawson was one of a group of proud parents watching 60 school children going through drills, touch footy, catch-and-passing skills with Westpac NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler, Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues coach Kylie Hilder, and Origin captains Boyd Cordner and Kezie Apps at Kerry Mead Oval.

The foursome are part of the 2023 NSWRL Hogs Regional Tour to northern and far-western parts of the state to encourage junior players to sign up for the upcoming season.

One of the participants at the clinic was 12-year-old Riley Dawson, who plays prop in the Glen Innes Magpies Under 14s team.

“Riley loves football,” Dawson said. “He’s followed it ever since he was pretty young.

“He first started following the Bulldogs in the NRL but I converted him (to the Raiders).

Freddy's Daily Diary | NSWRL Hogs Tour 2023 - Day Four

“The Magpies are also a big thing for this town. A lot of his mates play and he enjoys it.

“These Hogs days definitely help. You see how many people come out with their kids – everyone loves it.

“The access the kids get is incredible. They wouldn’t normally get this close to their heroes.”

Riley had a triple celebration during the free football clinic.

For starters, he got a photo with Fittler and Cordner, and was one of the first in line to get his special NSW Blues football autographed by Kezie Apps.

“Riley really enjoys watching the women’s games too, he’s been a big fan of Kezie’s,” Dawson said.

The third treat was tickets to Game Two of the 2023 Ampol State of Origin series in Brisbane.

“I only bought the tickets today so he’s stoked. He’s never been before - good day all round.”

As for Riley, he just wants the 2023 Rugby League season to start.

“This year will be my seventh year. I love getting out and having fun with my friends,” Riley said.

When he was eight years-old he took part in a NSW Blues holiday training camp in nearby Armidale in January 2019, with Fittler and 14 players from his extended Origin squad.

“I’ve met a few Origin players before so it was good to meet a couple more today. They are all just so nice and love playing with us,” Riley said.

“It’s such a cool experience meeting everyone.”

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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