Rugby league’s Indigenous All Stars received some early inspiration and motivation for Saturday’s Origin-like clash with the NRL All Stars at a special dinner tonight with Indigenous leaders from every field including the arts, entertainment, sport, business and the community.

From Leah Purcell, Lowitja O’Donoghue and Arthur Beetson to Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Mick Dodson and Christine Anu, the gathering at L’Esprit on the Water was a boost to the Indigenous team’s preparation for the second Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars game at Skilled Park.

The NRL’s Indigenous Leaders Dinner is one of the major highlights in an amazing week which will include an Indigenous youth summit, Women In League dinner, Indigenous leaders forum, One Community education programs, a two-day public festival, a women’s All Stars match and a junior All Stars.

NRL Chief Executive David Gallop said it was one of the most significant weeks in the game and a fitting launch to the 2011 season.

Chairman of the Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council, Mr William ‘Smiley’ Johnstone, said that in one year the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars concept had grown to be an enduring symbol of reconciliation and that the Indigenous programs were unique in their focus on changing lives rather than recruiting players.

Proceeds will again be diverted to club community programs with a particular focus on Indigenous programs.

Collections will also be raised before and during the match to benefit Queenslanders devastated by the recent floods and cyclone.

“In the months since the first Harvey Norman All Stars game Rugby League has renewed its Reconciliation Action Plan, joined Indigenous employment expos and lifted the Federal Government’s Learn. Earn. Legend! student mentoring program to national prominence,” Gallop said today.

“The programs that the ARL Indigenous Council, Rugby League’s One Community and our clubs are working towards in the year ahead are even more ambitious.”

Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development and Minister for Sport Mark Arbib said the All Stars match also marked the first anniversary of the Learn. Earn. Legend! campaign.

“In the year since we kicked off Learn. Earn. Legend! at the first All Stars game, the program has grown dramatically,” Senator Arbib said.

“I’m delighted this year that as well as the All Stars game and the employment expo, the NRL will host a Youth Summit and other events to spread the Learn. Earn. Legend! message even further.

“Our aim is to get more kids staying in school so they can get great jobs and change their lives and help their communities.”

ARL Indigenous Council Chairman Mr William ‘Smiley’ Johnstone said that the scale of events in this week alone signalled the game’s ongoing commitment to Indigenous Australia.