IPSWICH'S finest indigenous rugby league talent is out to prove it is amongst Queensland's best.
Ipswich is sending three senior teams and an under-15 side to the Queensland Murri Rugby League Carnival at Mudgeeraba, on the Gold Coast, from tomorrow to Sunday.
The carnival will feature 22 senior men's teams, 16 women's teams and 24 under-15s teams in the biggest indigenous rugby league carnival in Queensland.
The under-15 tournament will serve as a selection trial for a Queensland Murri side to take on a NSW Koori side as the curtain-raiser to next year's Indigenous All Stars game.
National Rugby League chief David Gallop is expected to front the dinner launching the carnival tonight and the tournament will be televised on National Indigenous Television (NITV).
The three Ipswich senior teams are the Purga Wagtails, Ipswich United, led by Jai Broome, and Wakka Wakka, led by Shane Williams.
"It's really big," Wagtails coach Raymond Thompson said.
"We've got a really strong team.
"Since this is the inaugural one, next year they are trying to promote it as Queensland selection trials."
The Wagtails feature Ipswich Rugby League players Andrew Walker and captain Wade Seden, Queensland Cup players Liam Georgetown and Josh Jerome, and Penrith Panthers NRL player Yileen Gordon, who is a first cousin of descendents of the Purga Aboriginal Mission.
Up for grabs at the carnival is $50, 000 prize money which has been put up by Queensland Health.
The carnival will be far more than just an avenue for football skills, with a focus on health, employment, education and the arts.
Queensland Health has jumped on board to promote the event on the proviso that all competitors have health checks.
Under-15 competitors also must meet school truancy criteria to be eligible.
The Wagtails are being sponsored by Ipswich City Council, the Ipswich Rugby league, the Kambu Medical Centre and Goolarn Goolyah.
More important than the money, the title or even state selection is the gathering of indigenous footballers at a drug and alcohol-free event.
"It's like a big corroboree," Thompson said.
The carnival is run by former Brisbane Bronco and Queensland and Australian representative player Tony Currie, with Arthur Beetson as the ambassador.
The player of the carnival wins the Lionel Morgan Cup.
Morgan was the first Aborigine to represent Australia in a Test match in 1960.
The Ipswich under-15 side is made up of players nominated by their IJRL clubs.
"I think it's fantastic," IJRL chairman David Nugent said.
"To represent their families and cultural background at a special carnival.
"It is a fantastic initiative."
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