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Karim ready to take on senior role in NSW wheelchair team

His sixth game for NSW but his first time as captain and Diab Karim is ready to take the responsibility head-on of returning the Wheelchair State Challenge trophy to the Blues.

Queensland are on a roll winning the 2021 interstate match 50-30 in Sydney, following that up with a 49-24 win in Townsville last July.

Karim joins fellow Australian teammate Brad Grove as co-captains of the 2023 NSW Wheelchair Rugby League team, who take on the Maroons next Saturday (8 July) at the Whitlam Leisure Centre in Sydney.

Karim is also mindful one of his mentors and great friends Craig Cannane (pictured below) will be absent from the Blues this year after needing eye surgery.

“He’s been a key member of this team for many years and he’s been a big part of my life – in fact I’ve always looked up to him as a player and as a mate,” Karim told

“We’ve been playing together for almost 13 years. He was one of the first people I met in wheelchair Rugby League – him and Brad.

“So I feel that being named co-captain for the first time is a big achievement for me and I want to be that voice and role that Craig had in the team.

“It’s my time and I know I have to step up.”

NSWRL chief executive David Trodden (L) with Craig Cannane
NSWRL chief executive David Trodden (L) with Craig Cannane

Karim did just that at the World Cup last November with the Wheelaroos making it all the way to the semi-finals, losing to France. He was one of the four finalists for the Golden Boot wheelchair award.

Assistant coach at the World Cup is current NSW coach Edie George, who has picked a 10-man team for the State Challenge featuring one debutant, Zac Carl from the Wests Tigers.

“We have some new boys and a new game plan that we’re going to throw at Queensland,” Karim.

“Can’t say too much, but we’ve got more fire, more fuel to our play, which makes us more determined.”

As pre-cursor to the annual NSW-QLD match the NSW Wheelchair Rugby League club competition Grand Finals are on this Sunday (2 July) at the Menai Indoor Sports Centre.

The NSW Plate final is between the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles and the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, while the NSW Cup final is between the Parramatta Eels, captained by Karim, and the Wests Tigers, with Grove as skipper.

“It’s an interesting one because we play against each other this weekend, then play as captains together the following weekend,” Karim said.

Grove and Karim were also joint captains of the NSW Country team, which overwhelmed NSW City 70-15 at the Queanbeyan PCYC in May.

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The 2023 NSW Blues Wheelchair Rugby League Team

Cory Cannane (St George Illawarra Dragons)

Zac Carl (Wests Tigers) 

William Derederenalagi (St George Illawarra Dragons)

Rick Engles (St George Illawarra Dragons)

Brad Grove (Wests Tigers) (Co-Captain)

Brett Henman (Parramatta Eels)

Diab Karim (Parramatta Eels) (Co-Captain)

Liam Luff (Parramatta Eels)

Chris O’Brien  (Parramatta Eels)

Toby Popple (Wests Tigers)

Reserves (in case of injury):

Jason Attard (Wests Tigers)

Stephan Rochecouste (Wests Tigers)

Coach: Edie George

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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