League legend Steve Renouf hopes Anthony Griffin gets a greater understanding of Indigenous issues after he undertakes a cultural awareness program when he takes charge of the Dragons.
The cultural awareness program is undertaken by all staff at the Dragons as part of their commitment to their Reconciliation Action Plan.
Renouf, an Indigenous rugby league icon, said it was an important course for Griffin, who was recently appointed as the Dragons coach for the next two seasons, after he told Nine Newspapers that there was no racism in rugby league and that in his decades-long involvement in the game had not come across it.
The Dragons are set to familiarise Griffin with the work the club does in the Indigenous area and the new coach will be given cultural awareness training when the club soon ratifies its second Reconciliation Action Plan.
Laid bare: Renouf, racism and rugby league
Former Dragons star Nathan Blacklock spoke on NITV's Over the Black Dot on Tuesday night about how he had turned his back on a three-year extension at the club because of racial slurs in video sessions from within the team environment directed at his cousin Preston Campbell.
Blacklock said telling his story earlier to Nine Newspapers had been "a weight lifted off my chest".
The Dragons issued an apology to Blacklock and CEO Ryan Webb commended him for his bravery.
Renouf, who spoke about his own experiences of racism at the Broncos in a moving video recently for NRL.com, believes Griffin should also reach out to Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander players.
"He should also take some time to talk to some former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players about their own experiences with racism," Renouf said.
St George Illawarra have five players who identify as Indigenous: Tristan Sailor, Josh Kerr, Jason Saab, Jayden Sullivan and Tyrell Fuimaono.
"While Anthony hasn’t yet commenced his role at the Dragons, part of his introduction to the club will be to familiarise himself with all aspects of the business including all the brilliant work Dragons Community undertake," a Dragons spokesman said.
"We will soon be ratifying our second Reconciliation Action Plan which involves annual cultural awareness training that remains compulsory for all players and employees - a process that commenced in 2018.
"The Dragons are also great advocates for Indigenous advancement programs such as the NRL's School to Work and recognise reconciliation within a number of our other programs such as our Best You Can Be school planner, which currently reaches 7300 students around NSW."
Dean Widders and Timana Tahu, who are regular panelists on Over the Black Dot, each called out racism in their careers.
Widders called out a racist taunt he received during his time playing for the Eels in 2005 while Tahu walked out of the NSW team in 2010 due to racist comments in the team camp about Queensland’s Greg Inglis.
Tahu spoke on the show of his admiration for Renouf speaking up, and the four-time Broncos premiership winner said he would continue to do so.
"Timana and Dean went through it and they stood up against it and are calling it out again, and good on them for that," Renouf said.
"The non-Indigenous fellas seem to think it is OK to talk like that, but it isn’t. It is offensive.
"There are a lot of Indigenous blokes in rugby league who have left their careers behind early because of it, and didn’t even start their careers, and I know some of them."
Renouf, who penned a column for NRL.com during Indigenous Round this year on why understanding Australian history was vital in the fight against racism, also took umbrage with comments about the All Stars match being too political.
"If anyone has made it political, it is not the team or the Indigenous side of it," he said.
"It is done for a reason around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. It is not just for the boys to learn, it is for the team that they play against.
"It is all about coming together."