SHOALHAVEN’S Rugby Park will be the hub of excitement this Saturday, when it plays host to the inaugural Group Seven All-stars carnival.
The action will start at 10am with an under 18s nine a side round robin competition taking place – showcasing some of the top junior talent in Group Seven.
This will be followed a welcome to country ceremony – which will lead straight into the kick-off of the women’s All-Stars game.
Scheduled to start at 3.30pm, this inaugural clash will pit John Simon’s Indigenous women’s league tag side and Russell Colgate’s president’s women’s league tag side.
“There’s no room for racial vilification in our sport, or in life in general,” Colgate said.
“Events like this, as well as the Indigenous days the group hold throughout the year, help educate people and can only be seen as a step in the right direction.”
At the conclusion of this clash, a local elder will speak, prior to the national anthem being played.
Lieutenant Shipton from HMAS Albatross will then present the match ball the men’s referees, prior to the 6pm kick-off.
This match will see Nathaniel Morrison’s Indigenous under 23s squad battle the Adam Bezzina and Gary Breakspear coached under 23s All-Stars side.
“Once this great All-Stars initiative was announced, I jumped at the chance to be involved,” Bezzina said.
“It’s also a great opportunity for Group Seven to showcase the talent – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous – that we have at the moment.”
Former Milton-Ulladulla head coach Morrison, a proud Indigenous man, believes this is a step in the right direction for rugby league as a whole.
“Obviously there have been a number of on-field issues within Group Seven in recent years but events like this are aimed to bridge that gap,” Morrison said.
Bezzina and his co-coach Gary Breakspear, having now completed two training session, are excited to see what their side, which will be captained by Jamberoo’s Luke Asquith, can do.
“With Gary being involved with Jono [Dallas] last year, it made the selection process a little easier, as a number of boys had already been involved in this concept,” Bezzina said.
“I also had a number of chats with Nathaniel about who he wanted to have in his side because at the end of the day, this match is a trial match for the Group Seven side, which will take on Illawarra.”
Both coaches agree it is a concept that they hope will continue to grow for years to come.
“It’s a great way to both raise cultural awareness but also kick-off the season on the right note,” Morrison said.
Entry on the day, hosted by the Nowra-Bomaderry Jets, is $5.