Push grows for Kangaroos 'war dance'
Past and present players have urged the Australian Rugby League to seriously consider adopting an Indigenous 'war dance' for national representative teams and set an example for the rest of the country.
As part of Indigenous Round this weekend the 2016 All Stars match was launched at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium on Thursday, the site where the Indigenous and NRL All Stars teams will meet on Saturday, February 13 next year.
Prior to kick-off the Indigenous players will once again perform the traditional dance they developed and unveiled at this year's All Stars match and with such a strong Indigenous influence in the Kangaroos it has been suggested it be adopted by rugby league's national team.
There were a record six Indigenous players in the Kangaroos team that played against the Kiwis in May and former Brisbane, Queensland and Australia great Steve Renouf believes rugby league is in a position to set a wonderful example to the rest of the nation.
"I think it's a great idea. Even though it's a war dance you've only got to compare it to the haka and what the Kiwis do and it's a spectacle," Renouf told NRL.com.
"Can you imagine rugby league bringing that in before being beaten to the punch by the Wallabies or someone else? Let's be the front-runner and get that going.
"Yes we have the Indigenous All Stars team but it's about everyone, that's how I view this game.
"We're bringing the [NRL] All Stars team along on the journey. Not only are a lot of boys learning their Indigenous culture which they had been detached from, they're also bringing the non-Indigenous boys along on that journey.
"That's what it's all about."
Two-time Indigenous All Star Sam Thaiday missed the 2015 edition due to injury but said the war dance was a topic of conversation when the Kangaroos team gathered in Brisbane earlier this year.
"I think it's pretty powerful that the boys had the majority of input on that. That really means that they own it and shows that it really means something to them," Thaiday said.
"We talked about it this year, having six Indigenous players in the Australian team. We had six Indigenous players in the Jillaroos as well which is a record in itself and it was something that we did talk about.
"Someone even tossed a stat at me today that the Indigenous population of Australia is only three per cent but the Indigenous population of the NRL is 10 per cent so we have a pretty big influence in the game. Who knows heading into the future where we could go with it.
"It would be something that the fans would love to see, a reply to the haka.
"It's all about taking baby steps as a game and the more and more Indigenous Round builds, the more and more Indigenous All Stars builds, I'm sure it will be a fixed thing in the future."
The theme of the 2016 All Stars fixture is to 'Celebrate As One' and six-time Test representative Josh Morris said that he believes non-Indigenous members of the Kangaroos would support a move to institute a war dance before all Tests.
"If it's something that everyone was on board with then they'd definitely run with it," Morris said.
Thaiday is also confident that a war dance would be embraced by non-Indigenous Australian representatives.
"I think it's something that we would have to lead as Indigenous leaders and as senior players in that Australian team," said Thaiday, a veteran of 28 Tests for Australia.
"You look at that Australian team and the majority of them are in the [NRL] All Stars team so they know how passionate we are about being Indigenous and proud of where we're from so I'm sure they'd be more than happy to jump on board."
A two-time All Star, Morris said his understanding of the issues faced by Indigenous Australians has been enhanced greatly by the All Stars concept and dedicated Indigenous Rounds in the NRL.
"They had the 'Close the Gap Round' for a while and that really highlighted the different issues that Indigenous people face compared to non-Indigenous people with their life expectancy and their health issues so that certainly opened my eyes to that," Morris said.
"It's about seeing Indigenous Australians get more opportunities and access to things like healthcare and education and making sure that we continue to close that gap."