Grassroots vital for indigenous rugby: Beale

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    Kurtley Beale hopes a special jersey will provide the inspiration that will boost the disappointingly small number of indigenous Wallabies.

    Australia will wear an indigenous jersey for the first time in their final Bledisloe Cup Test of the year, against New Zealand in Brisbane, on October 21.

    Describing himself as a very proud indigenous man, an emotional Beale said it would be an unbelievable feeling to wear the jersey if selected for the match.

    “The ARU have helped us take that next step forward so we can start to be recognised and hopefully at the end of the day it’s a step towards reconciliation,” Beale said.

    With 60 Test appearances, Beale is the most capped of the 14 indigenous players to have represented the Wallabies.

    That number pales in comparison to the plethora of indigenous stars in some of Australia’s other football codes.

    “Obviously it’s pretty disappointing,” Beale said.

    “I love sport in Australia and to be able to see a lot of indigenous players in the AFL and league, you kind of wonder what’s going on.

    “But I think where we can really get involved is at the grassroots level.

    “This is a great step forward because there’s going to be a lot of young indigenous kids out there, to be able to see this jersey being displayed at Bledisloe game three.

    “Hopefully now that can influence them to play our game.

    “It’s a great game and if we can start from the grassroots I think we’ll be in good stead for an opportunity for them to come and play our game.”

    Australian sevens representative and Wallaroos World Cup squad member Mahalia Murphy views taking the game to new areas as key to getting more indigenous players involved in the code.

    “I think that if we just continue introducing our sport into areas and other communities then I think that’s where we can get the participation numbers up,” Murphy said.

    Beale revealed he had some indigenous rugby idols of his own when he was growing up.

    “I’ve looked up to the Ella brothers and I think one special one that I relate to is Andrew Walker, who was pretty deadly when he played the game,” Beale said.

    © AAP 2017

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