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Dragons issue apology to Blacklock over racism at club

Dragons chief executive Ryan Webb has apologised unreservedly to Nathan Blacklock and any other Indigenous player who may have been subjected to racism during their time at the club.

St George Illawarra issued a statement on Sunday afternoon after the former winger, in a Sydney Morning Herald report, said he experienced racism.

Blacklock said there was an unnamed "element" at the club which made racist remarks about his friend, former Dally M winner Preston Campbell.

"The reason I lost my passion for the Dragons and left the club was because of racism. It came from the worst place possible – within our team environment ... That was like a dagger to my heart. I kept that pain to myself," Blacklock, a fan favourite and former Kangaroos representative, told the SMH.

Webb said the Dragons were saddened to read Blacklock's story.

Dragons winger Nathan Blacklock celebrates his spectacular try in the first half of the 1999 grand final.
Dragons winger Nathan Blacklock celebrates his spectacular try in the first half of the 1999 grand final. ©NRL Photos

"Racism has no place in society, in rugby league and certainly not at the St George Illawarra Dragons," Webb said.

"Everyone at the club were saddened to read over the weekend that racism played a contributing role in Nathan's departure from the club in the early 2000s, and commend his bravery in speaking out.

"We have come a long way as a club with addressing matters pertinent to not only players of indigenous background but across all cultures.

"We presented our inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in 2017 and are currently reviewing the production of our second RAP which is due to be released in November.

"Respect, inclusion and commitment are core keystones of the Dragons as a whole; our RAP is one of a number of resources and programs the club are committed to in our continual efforts to help close the gap.

"With a commitment to reconciliation, the club will continue to uphold these values in taking a stance against racism.

"The club respects the unique position of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first peoples of our nation, and appreciate the contribution they have and continue to make to our country, our community, to our sport and to the Dragons."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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