NRL legends are lacing up the 2017 Murri Rugby League Carnival, a celebration of Indigenous sport at its very best.
For the first time in the carnival’s seven-year history, a legends game will take place on Thursday, September 21.
More than 30 former NRL greats will line up for the Arthur Beetson All Stars versus Brisbane Broncos Legends match.
They will include Gary Belcher, Steve Renouf, Preston Campbell and Nathan Blacklock for the All Stars and Julian O’Neil, Jharal Yow Yeh, Darren Smith, Cliff Lyons, Petero Civoniceva and Chris Walker for the Old Boys.
The game is set to be a highlight of the Arthur Beetson Foundation Deadly Choices Murri Rugby League Carnival.
The carnival will be held at Dolphin Oval in Redcliffe, Queensland, from September 20 to 23. More than 20,000 spectators and a record 53 teams of more than 1300 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players are expected to attend.
Brad Beetson, son of the late Arthur Beetson and board member of the Arthur Beetson Foundation, launched the carnival and legends match.
“Dad was absolutely passionate about young Australians, and particularly young Indigenous Australians, achieving better health, education and welfare outcomes,” he said.
“He would be proud that many of the NRL stars he had so much to do with have come out to play in the Legends game to support the carnival and he would have been so pleased to see the huge number of teams travelling from all over Queensland to compete in the Under 15s, Men’s and Women’s competitions.”
League legend Steve Renouf, who still holds the record for the most tries for the Brisbane Broncos, said the carnival was a key event for raising the representation of Indigenous players in the NRL.
“The Murri Rugby League Carnival is recognised as a showpiece of Indigenous sporting talent and it really does provide an environment that encourages community to take responsibility for looking after their health,” he said.
“We’ve got teams attending from all over Queensland, including from the Torres Strait, Mt Isa and the Gold Coast.
“With so many competitors, I’m really looking forward to watching some really talented players on field.
“I am particularly excited and honored to be playing for the Arthur Beetson All Stars, named after the legend who did so much for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, against many of my former Broncos team mates.”
A three-hour highlights package from the carnival will be broadcast on Fox League during the NRL grand final weekend. Action from each of the fields will also be live streamed for the first time, including the legends match.