Premiership-winning Bulldogs coach Des Hasler has endorsed an NRL initiative which will see 14 talented Indigenous players have the experience of a lifetime next week as temporary members of seven Sydney NRL clubs.
The Bulldogs, Eels, Panthers, Sea Eagles, Rabbitohs, Sharks and Dragons will all play host to members of the non-elite Indigenous First Nations Goannas team which will play a trial match against the Knights at Newcastle's Hunter Stadium on February 8.
The trial will mark the culmination of the week-long Festival of Indigenous Rugby League being held in Newcastle in place of the traditional Rugby League All Stars which is being "rested" in 2014 post World Cup. It will feature extensive community activities, as well as a Murri v Koori match and curtain-raiser games between the QLD and NSW Under 16 boys teams and QLD and NSW Indigenous Women's teams prior to the trial match.
As part of the build-up to the game, Laurie Daley's Goannas players will gather in Sydney on Tuesday (Jan 28) when they will team-up with the club hosting them until Friday during which time they will experience firsthand what it takes to play in the game's premier competition.
"The Festival is a great concept, providing an opportunity of a lifetime for these young men to show their skills against an NRL squad in the trial game and during their visits to the clubs," said Hasler, who will host Queenslanders Davin Crampton (Cairns) and Reggie Saunders (Southport).
"Hopefully it will open the door to a start in the NRL in the near future for some of the players, but I have no doubt they will all take something home with them to inspire them to continue to pursue their dreams on and off the field."
Following their NRL Club experience, the Goannas will join the NRL Indigenous Players Camp at the Hunter Valley over the weekend, before heading to Newcastle for a week of training, personal development workshops and community activities ahead of the match.