The Wests Tigers have taken giant strides to become the first-choice destination club for Indigenous sporting talent across Australia.
The club’s strategic direction is already resulting in a major shift in the representation of Indigenous players on the club’s senior roster — but under the club’s bold vision for the future it is just the start.
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It represents a complete transformation from when the club launched its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in 2017.
The Tigers’ 2021 playing roster reflects that with fullback Daine Laurie being promoted to the senior squad and high profile signing James Roberts just the tip of the iceberg.
Behind the scenes the club’s commitment to working with Indigenous communities has also resulted in Tyronne Roberts-Davis, Allan Fitzgibbon and Kiah Cooper, as well as Jersey Flegg trio Matt Smith, Floyd Tighe and Brandon Tumeth joining the club this year.
Related: Champs gather as NRL launches Indigenous Round
The Tigers celebrating earlier this season.
The Tigers celebrating earlier this season.Source:Supplied
Indigenous Sport Month will highlight the achievements of Indigenous athletes on and off the field — the moments that inspire, signify progress and bring change.
The goal of Indigenous Sport Month is to engage, educate and empower all Australians on the successes, challenges and triumphs of Indigenous athletes.
Roberts earlier this year even suggested the changes to the club’s football department means it is now legitimately re-creating South Sydney’s long-established relationship with Indigenous communities.
It is all part of the club’s vision for the future being driven at the top by chief executive Justin Pascoe.
James Roberts’ NRL Indigenous Round boots. Photo: Wests Tigers Media.
James Roberts’ NRL Indigenous Round boots. Photo: Wests Tigers Media.Source:Supplied
The boots worn by Daine Laurie during NRL Indigenous Round. Photo: Wests Tigers Media.
The boots worn by Daine Laurie during NRL Indigenous Round. Photo: Wests Tigers Media.Source:Supplied
The club has recently shown that the directive is not just focused on rugby league but in off-season projects of substance, as shown through the club’s partnership with the Awabakal organisation — the leading medical provider for Indigenous people in the Newcastle area.
The club has also established a strong bond with the KARI foundation as part of a partnership that cultivates stronger relationships between the club and local Indigenous communities.
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They are just some example that reflects the club’s commitment to making its connection with Indigenous communities anything but an act of “tokenism”.
Moses Mbye captained the Tigers before his decision to step down ahead of the 2021 NRL season.
Moses Mbye captained the Tigers before his decision to step down ahead of the 2021 NRL season.Source:News Corp Australia
Pascoe said the club is committed to recruiting Indigenous people cross all aspect of its operation including senior management, administration and high performance.
The appointment of former Newcastle area coach Ron Griffiths to a senior coaching position alongside head coach Michael Maguire is the clearest example of the results being generated by the strategic focus — and it is already paying off with Roberts and former rugby league star Timana Tahu both declaring Griffiths appointment helps make the Tigers an attractive destination for Indigenous players.
Pascoe now says the club has a very real strategy to build on this progress, but insists benefits on the field will only a by-product of the club’s long-term commitment to strengthening relationships with Indigenous communities.
When asked what the club wants to look like in 10 years, Pascoe replied: “Our brand being synonymous with Indigenous communities throughout Australia.
“With authenticity, we would hope to be a destination club for Indigenous talent in rugby league.”
He said he club’s future includes the establishment of annual talent combines across Australia under the club’s banner to identify and recruit junior talent.
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