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Family ties brings GI home to Macksville

Macksville Sea Eagles will have a match-winning centre, fullback, or five-eighth, next season when former Australian Test star Greg Inglis dons the club colours in NSWRL’s Group 2 competition.

A former Clive Churchill Medallist at Melbourne Storm, Inglis went on to win the 2014 Premiership with South Sydney during a nine-year stay with the Rabbitohs.

The NSWRL last week announced a statewide Player Points Index System (PPIS) for Regional and Metropolitan Open Age next season, which encourages former NRL stars like Inglis to give back to the communities that kickstarted their careers.

The PPIS is part of the One State Strategic Plan and includes a Notional Principal Contracts Allowance for former NRL stars to have their points recalculated to a notional value as their return has a positive impact on the club, competition and community.

Macksville club president Dean Hillary used to play with Inglis' father Wade Blair and that connection has led to the NRL superstar coming back to his roots.

“I played with his father so there’s mutual respect there... Greg used to be our ball boy,” Hillary said.

“I don’t remember who called who first - him or me - but it’s been a goal of Greg’s to come back here - something he’s always wanted to do. He’s always been a big supporter of our club.”

Inglis retired from the NRL in 2019 after a decorated career that included 263 games before making a surprise comeback with Warrington Wolves in the English Super League this year.

He managed only three games before suffering a nasty hamstring injury which prompted him to reach a mutual agreement to terminate his contract.

Inglis farewelled his Wolves teammate, including fellow South Sydney premiership-winner Jason Clark, last weekend before heading home.

The former Wally Lewis Medallist was born in nearby Kempsey in 1987 and played his junior football with the Bowraville Tigers, or just 15km up the road from Macksville.

As well as helping the Rabbitohs break a long premiership drought, Inglis played 39 games (31 tries) for Australia and 32 for Queensland (18 tries).

The impact Inglis will make in the district will have benefits for many - the club and its fans, his teammates, plus the sport of Rugby League, Hillary said.

Inglis has another strong tie to the community after setting up the inaugural Goanna Academy, which helps people deal with mental health issues, in Macksville last year.

“It means a lot to me, it means a lot to this community,” Inglis said at the time.

“I grew up in this community, I grew up in this town. It means a lot to me coming back here and giving back to the community.”