A quick word with the 'flash'

Former rugby league international and Australian Day Ambassador Larry Corowa talks sport and politics with Mathew Dickerson at Victoria Park on Saturday morning. 										                Photos: KATHRYN O’SULLIVAN
Former rugby league international and Australian Day Ambassador Larry Corowa talks sport and politics with Mathew Dickerson at Victoria Park on Saturday morning. Photos: KATHRYN O’SULLIVAN

Former Australian and Balmain Tigers winger LARRY COROWA was in Dubbo on Saturday as our Australia Day Ambassador. 

Born in 1957, Larry joined Balmain as a 19-year-old, played 98 games with the Tigers from 1978-83, a couple more with Gold Coast, and in rep football played State of Origin and two tests for Australia. 

He was one of the fastest wingers of his time and was called the “Black Flash.” 

Daily Liberal sports editor BARRY HILDEBRANDT spent a few minutes with Larry after the celebrations.

What are your thoughts on the Indigenous All Stars game that's on February 9 in Brisbane against the NRL All Stars?

The idea behind this game was long overdue, it's also the first game of the season and I'm sure everyone who has been picked will be looking forward to preparing for the game. The buzz around Brisbane and the Gold Coast is very exciting.

This game is a showcase for Aboriginal people and to show what we love doing and that is playing rugby league.

The statistics speak for themselves with a lot of Aboriginal people now playing the game at Test level, State of Origin and with NRL sides. In our under-16s program alone, we've produced 21 NRL players.

How would you rate Johnathan Thurston, one of the stars of the NRL and an Indigenous player of immense talent?

Tremendous player and a great ambassador for our people and for Australia.

He's got a very likeable personality and of course his football shows that you don't have to be a solid bloke. You can be like Johnathan, play halfback and succeed in the big time. That's encouraging for a lot of little blokes out there.

There is a game for you to play and make a name for yourselves. He's done that very well. He's represented Australia with pride and he's a fitting captain for the Indigenous All Stars. A great player.

One player making a comeback to the NRL this season is Sonny Bill Williams, will that be good for the game?

Very interesting. He's very good for the game but it was sad also that he chose to get out of rugby league the way he did and I don't think Canterbury would be supportive of him coming back.

He's a personality player and the game needs personality people.

Another athlete who is big in sport and who flies the Indigenous flag with pride is Anthony Mundine. What are your thoughts on him, bearing in mind some people like him, some don't?

That's Anthony you know. He's a great athlete and he's proud of his Aboriginality, he says what he says and while I don't agree with it all the time, you know he'll put bums on seats and that's why he's so outspoken. He's a great ambassador for us as well.

Let's go back to the NRL and you indicated earlier in your interview with mayor Mathew Dickerson during the Australia Day ceremony that you're not a great supporter of the interchange rules in the game?

I would support any move to reduce the number of interchanges allowable in a game.

As you know I played in an era where you played 80 minutes of football. And we had four replacements.

I'd like to see the NRL interchange down to about eight for the game and that should make the game more competitive.

How do you look at the game that currently has two referees and a video referee in the box upstairs?

I'm not a fan of the video replays, they do make mistakes - let the guys on the field make the decisions. As for two referees, the game is that quick now we need two referees.

Larry Corowa in 2013, what's happening with you this year?

I'm still involved with the Indigenous rugby league mainly.

I'm back living in the Tweed and we set up pathways for the kids and try and organise programs to assist them. That involves education programs. So if we can get the kids to stay in school and be respectful, play some sport - then I think we're doing something right.


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