: Indigenous All Stars players Greg Inglis (right) and Greg Bird (centre) celebrate after Nathan Merritt (left) scored a try during their match against the NRL All Stars last month (AAP IMAGE/DAVE HUNT)
NATIONAL: JAMAL IDRIS* is getting ready for the NRL season, but he reflects back on the Indigenous All-Stars game last month.
When I wrote this article last month I was busy preparing to play in the NRL All Stars game.
For a friendly match it was as tough as they come. It definitely had a high level of intensity and there was no love lost on the field.
From our (Indigenous All Stars) perspective we were determined to win the Arthur Beetson memorial trophy and for much of the game it was looking like we would win.
Unfortunately, we started to slip away at half time and ultimately we lost the game.
We gave it our all but it was not to be on the night, hopefully next year we can come back and win.
During the game there were some experimental rules put in place. This included a 20–50 (a variation of the 40–20), the attacking power play where two defensive players drop off for a 5 minute period to give the attacking team an advantage and a rolling penalty system for ruck infringements which simply restarted the tackle count every time there was a ruck infringement allowing the game to flow faster.
Personally I see potential for the infringement rule as it will stop a lot of the wrestling activities that go on these days and allow a more fluid nature of footy to be played.
However, it does need some refining, possibly limiting the amount of times it can be used consecutively and award an old fashion penalty if the infringement exceeds a designated amount during any single period of time.
The 20–50 didn’t really come into play, but I see it as being the same as the 40–20, a good initiative.
The power play was a bit hit and miss in the way that it backfired for both teams resulting in points conceded by the team with the advantage. It could be a good rule but I wouldn’t like to see it implemented, as it is too big of a change to the original structure of the game.
Although the main event was the All Stars game, for many of us it was more than a game, it was a week long festival with plenty of activities and side events.
Leading up to the game I spent a lot of time in the community and had the opportunity to meet so many new people.
It’s amazing how for one game of football people will travel 12 hours by car just to come and watch. The sense of community and spirit is still definitely strong amongst our people. It reminds me of when you play in the Aboriginal knockout where everyone just comes to watch family play and have a good time and its more about the journey as much as the game.
This month I’ve also been busy with trial matches and doing promotional visits throughout rural Queensland.
A place that stood out for me was my visit to the town of Miles and the local high school. I got to spend a few hours with the kids and play a game of basketball with them. I think there were a bit surprised by my size and that I could shoot a few hoops. It was a good laugh and lots of fun.
I always enjoy getting out to rural communities at a grass roots level and being part of the NRL lets you do this.
Making my debut for the Titans and putting on the new jersey felt surreal – I had been looking forward to it for a long time.
We have had a good preseason preparation and it showed against the Broncos where we burst out of the blocks with 3 tries then cruised to an 18–16 victory. We also posted a good result against Townsville up in Mackay with a 36–28 win in the tropical climate.
I really feel excited for this season to begin and rip in.
*Jamal Idris is a Worimi man and professional Rugby League player, currently representing the Gold Coast Titans.