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Indigenous talent gather for NSW Koori U17s camp

The three-day KARI Foundation-NSWRL Talented Aboriginal Athlete Program (TAAP) Under 17s camp had a surprise guest drop by today to address 40 young Indigenous players from around the state.

Just 24 hours into his role as the new Westpac NSW Origin coach Michael Maguire spoke to the boys about his playing, then coaching career, and what drove him in Rugby League.

“Seeing young men have a dream and going for it – that’s you boys and that excites me,” he said.

“I just love the game and I love developing players. Some of the faces in this room will hopefully one day play in the NRL,” Maguire said to the group seated in the John Quayle Lecture Theatre at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence.

“You’re not far away from one of the biggest opportunities in your life. It could be just around the corner.

“Having goals and visions is really important – for me as well. So be ready to work towards those, take the opportunities, listen to the good people around you.”

Wagga Wagga’s Jody Siegwalt is one of the eight trainers and coaches putting the boys through training drills, field and gym sessions, lectures and reviews. He has been involved in the TAAP since 2009.

“I actually love coming along to do this. Uncle Bear (Steve ‘Bear’ Hall) brought me in and became a really good mentor to me and a whole lot of young Indigenous players.

“That’s why I love coming back and giving back to communities around NSW.”

From the camp a 20-player NSW Koori Under 17s squad will be chosen to play for the Steve Hall Shield against a Queensland Murri Carnival Under 17s side early next year. Queensland are the current Shield holders beating NSW 32-10 in Brisbane last January.

“I’m feeling very positive and confident that we will get the shield back,” Siegwalt said.

“We were a little under-done last time and we’re making sure that definitely doesn’t happen this time around.”

Siegwalt joined Anthony McBride, Jye Bull, Mark Beetson, and Adam Daniels in conducting two training sessions at the COE today (Friday 1 December).

Over the weekend they will be joined by guest coaches including former South Sydney halfback Joe Williams and Parramatta backrower Dean Widders.

“You see the kids over the years making it to the NRL and getting to live their dreams,” Siegwalt said.

“You also get to catch up with these boys at the Koori Knock-Out and other competitions during the year – there’s a lot of mutual respect.

“These camps allow the boys to meet more people involved in the game as well as connecting them back to their culture and community.

“It was a treat for them to hear Michael Maguire today and listen to his stories and advice. He asked them to put their best foot forward and not give up on what they want to do in Rugby League.

“If you’ve got a goal, keep kicking on and going for it.”

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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