MORE than 5000 rugby league players, including a host of NRL stars, are set to converge on Dubbo next week for what has been described as “the most significant Aboriginal event in Australia”.
The 45th Annual NSW Aboriginal Knockout will be played at Caltex Park across four days with players coming from all over the state.
Current and former NRL players will also be in the teams taking part with the likes of Andrew and David Fifita, James Roberts, Tyrone Roberts, Dane Gagai and George Rose just some of the many elite players set to be on show.
“Everyone is really pumped and ready to go,” Walgett Aboriginal Connection captain and committee member Matt Rose said.
“It’s the most significant Aboriginal event in Australia in terms of numbers and once the footy gets started there’s going to be a number of NRL players playing so everyone is really excited.”
After three successive tournaments at Raymond Terrace the action will be played at Dubbo’s Caltex Park after the Walgett Aboriginal Connection (WAC) won last year’s event and were awarded hosting rights.
Nominations close on Friday but there are already more than 100 teams set to take part.
Fifty-five of those teams are the men’s with a stack of under-12s, 15s, 17s and women’s sides also ready to take to the field.
The action will get under way next Friday, with the women’s and juniors matches set to played before the men take the field on Saturday with the finals set for Monday.
“Anywhere between 100 and 130 teams is what we were guessing so once we get the final nominations in we’ll know,” Rose said.
“Then the draw will be held at Dubbo RSL Memorial Club next Wednesday and Jessica Mauboy and some of the NRL players will be there.”
The official draw is part of the Gala Dinner event in the lead-up to the Knockout and is just one of the many off-field attractions involved with the event.
“It is special, it’s in the 45th year now and it’s obviously a cultural gathering but it takes in everyone and anyone can come along and see some great rugby league and also witness the culture,” Rose said.
“Everyone can come out and enjoy the footy and the atmosphere in a family environment and there’s lots of activities for the kids during the day so it’s going to be great.”
Rose and his brother George were key parts of the WAC side that won last year’s event and the captain admitted it was a thrilling brand of football to watch and play.
Attack is the focus and hugely entertaining end-to-end matches have been the hallmark in recent years and Rose was hopeful rugby league fans from Dubbo and the surrounding areas would be out next week to watch the action at Caltex Park.
“Basically we just want some great footy and for everyone to enjoy it but from a Dubbo perspective we want people to come down and watch,” he said.
“It’s been 15 years since it was last in Dubbo so it’s going to be great to see.
“It’s an excellent facility and Dubbo City Council have been really good to work with and now we’re all primed and ready.”