Wallaby search comes to town
RUGBY Australia's High Performance team is visiting Ipswich tomorrow to uncover the next First Nations talent.
The second leg of the #dreamBigTime tour kicked off on Monday, with the first pitstop in Taree before winding up the east coast over two massive weeks.
Following the third talent ID tour in the coming months the top 130 players will be flown to Sydney for a four-day camp where their skills will be put to the test in front of a panel of national coaches.
Two squads of 20 will then be chosen to represent two First Nations Sevens sides who will compete in five domestic and two international tournaments. The long-term goal will be welcoming at least two players into the Australian Sevens squads for the 2024 Olympics.
Former Australian Men's Sevens assistant coach Jarred Hodges is leading the project with the support of Rugby Australia and the Member Unions.
He said there was a large First Nations population in Ipswich already engaged in rugby or rugby league and the tour intended to access that rich talent pool.
"It is about providing choice and opportunity," Hodges said.
"Rugby Australia recognises more needs to be done to encourage and engage the First Nations community to increase participation.
"We recognise that First Nations people are tailor-made for the game. It requires speed, agility and spacial awareness and they posses the perfect qualities, so it is about tapping into that talent."
Hodges said more than five hundred people put on a superb performance on the first tour through the country's central west and the coaching team was excited to be back out in regional Australia where there is a genuine thirst for rugby.
In the town of Menindee in western NSW, the tour unearthed a brother and sister duo whose family broke down crying at the thought of the opportunity on offer.
"If you lift up enough rocks you will find gold and we've been doing a lot of lifting," he said.
"We will have several Australian Sevens stars joining us again to help host sessions and educate people around the international opportunities this sport has to offer. Following these visits we will work with the Member Unions to re-visit each of these communities and keep in regular contact to maintain and grow First Nations talent."
Rugby Australia has also partnered with local Aboriginal Medical Services to promote the importance of keeping healthy both on and off the field.
Participants will complete 40m sprint and 1.2 kilometre aerobic tests, as well as passing skills and contact elements.
Hodges said the #dreamBigTime Tour was a culturally supportive program and it was hoped members of the First Nations community aged 14-25 would feel comfortable to head along and express themselves.