Thurston and Inglis want to take Indigenous stars out into the world

“Once the boys understand the meaning of the dance… when the boys stamp their feet, it is to wake up the ancestors and let them know that we are here to fight for them.”

There was brief discussion of an Indigenous team taking Australia’s place once they pulled out of last year’s World Cup due to COVID-19 concerns. It was never going to happen because of the short notice, but Inglis knows an Indigenous team would more than overall hold their own with the right preparation and inspire the next generation more.

Josh Addo-Carr front row during the Unity Dance ahead of the 2020 All Stars.Credit:NRL Photos

Inglis has seen how far young fans will travel to catch a glimpse of their idols and what kind of influence Indigenous players have on remote communities. Television networks paying the rights to the Cup would privately host an Indigenous team and their style of knockout football in front of a nation of minnows.

“I speak for myself and for my family, but I would like to see an Indigenous side on the world stage,” Inglis said.

“Without a doubt, they would be competitive. This game on Saturday is the first game [on the calendar]but it’s gone from sort of an exhibition game to a competitive game to what’s now become a totally different beast – it’s like playing the first round.

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“I don’t know what hurdles you would have to jump through…and there’s no doubt there would be a backlash if you were to have an Indigenous side, but it’s about trying to educate people.

Inglis, who continues to work with his Goanna Academy, which helps tackle mental health in Indigenous communities, said he could help an Indigenous team to the Cup: “It’s still a long way off, but I wouldn’t say no.”

He can’t wait to see Shaq Mitchell, Latrell’s older brother, and his “cousin”, Albert Kelly, take on the Maori.

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