Indigenous issues hit home for Reynolds
More than any other member of the World All Stars team this week, South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds knows the statistics and negative stereotypes that can affect Indigenous Australians.
Growing up on the streets of Redfern, Reynolds says 90 per cent of his best friends are Indigenous and his long-term partner Tallara Phillips is also Indigenous, the pair having three children with proud Indigenous bloodlines.
It makes for some interesting family banter during Harvey Norman All Stars week but has also opened Reynolds' eyes to Indigenous culture and the pride they have as a people.
The life expectancy for Indigenous Australians is estimated to be 10 years shorter than that of the non-Indigenous population, an alarming stat to have to confront as you tuck your three children into bed at night.
Tallara and the couple's two eldest children have begun to take Indigenous courses and Reynolds says that as they support him in his football endeavours, he is equally supportive in their discovery of culture.
"I learnt a lot about the Indigenous community [growing up in Redfern] and my partner and my three kids are Aboriginal so there's a bit of rivalry there this week with us two," Reynolds told NRL.com.
"My partner and two of the kids have been to Indigenous courses and are learning how to speak the language and learning a bit about the past.
"It's always good to remember where you come from and how proud they are of it.
"I try and get involved and support my missus and the kids. Obviously they are proud of what they are doing like I am about my football. They support me so any time I can get in and learn with them as well is a good time."
Although the player profile reads that Reynolds played his junior football with Alexandria and Kensington, he claims to have played with basically every club in the South Sydney junior competition.
But rather than any formal coaching or intricate drills, he says that playing footy literally in the streets of Redfern built skills within him that has yielded a premiership, 97 NRL games and a second All Stars appearance at just 25 years of age.
"I've got a lot of great memories of kicking the ball around the street or playing touch on the roads, that's basically where I fell in love with the game," said Reynolds, who was a late call-up to the World All Stars team in place of Trent Hodkinson.
"Just having fun with my mates in the back lane and kicking the ball around and playing a bit of touch.
"You learn a lot of skills from them sort of games and it's probably made me the player I am today."
Rabbitohs teammate Greg Inglis will lead the Indigenous All Stars team for the first time on Saturday night but if the World All Stars can break a two-game losing run 'GI' won't be the only person close to Reynolds who goes home disappointed.
"Ninety per cent of my mates are Indigenous and there is always that proud passion in one of these games. They definitely come alive for it and so they should," he said.
"They're very proud of where they come from and any game that the Indigenous people get to represent their culture they should hold their heads high.
"There are a few Indigenous boys in our team and they live for this game.
"They're very proud people and so they should be. They're wonderful and all my mates are great blokes too."