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Renouf: Speed and instinct propels young Indigenous stars into orbit

There are so many good young Indigenous players running around in the NRL and they stand out because they have what you cannot coach - speed and instinct.

Wayne Bennett always said he’d love to have the majority of his team Indigenous because he loves the way they play their footy.

Indigenous players always play on instinct and they’ve got speed. That is the way we’re brought up to play the game.

When we played the game as kids we were almost always the smallest, we didn’t have much meat on our bones, but you could always count on your speed.

I remember playing out at Cherbourg and everyone was small, they didn’t have that many forwards, but man they were quick and it was all about instinct play.

Indigenous stars through the ages

There is so much structure in the NRL but the Indigenous boys just play what is in front of them. It’s a bit like touch footy but they’re so elusive that you can’t stop them in rugby league.

We’re seeing it so much this year that some of the best young talents in the Telstra Premiership are Indigenous.

Guys like William Kennedy, Daine Laurie and Brian Kelly are having so much influence at their clubs and have been a big reason their teams have got up in the games they’ve won.

Indigenous Round to highlight inequality to move forward

But the two guys who I think are really standing out are Reece Walsh at the Warriors and North Queensland’s Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.

Reece Walsh may not be a big name in rugby league right now, but by the end of the year he will be - he's going to be an absolute star. The way he plays his footy at just 18 is incredible.

He is such a natural and I still can’t believe the Broncos let him go.

Injury has hampered Tabuai-Fidow a bit this season but he is one of the fastest men in the game and he looks like he could develop into one of North Queensland’s brightest young talents.

Both Walsh and Hammer can score a try from anywhere. They see what’s in front of them and think to themselves, "how can I score?" That is why I like watching them the most.

We are not known as having too many Indigenous forwards but guys like Chris Smith, Josh Curran and Josh Kerr are making us proud and they’ve impressed me.

Smith scored a great try against the Titans last week and Curran has been really good for the Warriors - he is so tough and just has a real red-hot go every time.

Bulldogs turn it on to get on the board

Kerr is playing some really good footy in the front row at the Dragons so I’m not surprised some people are talking him up as a chance for Queensland Origin.

Historically the Indigenous boys don’t have too many forwards at the elite level, but these young guys we have coming through are doing a great job.

From what I hear there could be two more young fellas to keep your eye on in the coming weeks who are on the cusp of NRL debuts.

The Indigenous game-breakers set to take centre stage

I’ve heard a lot of good chat lately about Jayden Campbell, Preston Campbell’s son at the Titans. He scored a hat-trick in the Intrust Super Cup a few weeks back and could get his chance if AJ Brimson gets the Origin call-up next week.

There’s another young kid who will get his chance soon at the Broncos and that’s Selwyn Cobbo.

A story last week said he was the next Latrell Mitchell and while he probably doesn’t need to hear that sort of comparison, I do know they love him at Brisbane.

He’s a fullback who can score tries and has a fair bit of size. He is another one of those kids straight out of Cherbourg and just plays what he sees. And we all know that is exactly what the Broncos need right now.


The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.

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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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