(Thanks to Sarah Harvey, Jay Buchan and the QT)
IT’S an end-of-season footy trip to Hawaii, but sun, surf and partying aren’t on the agenda.
For six Ipswich Jets rugby league players, the Queensland Murri team’s trip to Hawaii to play the USA Tomahawks next week is an opportunity and an honour.
Brendon Marshall, Donald Malone, Ian Lacey, Keiron Lander, Kurtis Lingwoodock and Geoff Broome fly out on Tuesday for a unique footy and cultural experience.
“All the boys are very proud to be in the side,” Jets captain Keiron Lander said.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s overwhelming to represent the indigenous side, especially with so many boys from the Jets in the team.”
Lander knows how privileged he and his teammates are to be part of such a team.
“It’s an experience and a learning curve,” Lander said.
“It’s also a stepping stone.
“That’s what the aim is.
“It is also great for the generation behind us to be able to do the same thing and to experience a different country.”
Lander may well be referring to the likes of Broome – the youngster in the squad at just 18.
Lander is looking forward to see how Broome responds to the opportunity and the responsibility that comes with representing his indigenous heritage.
“He’s a very good footballer,” the Jets skipper said.
“Players can grow another leg sometimes (when they play for an indigenous representative team).”
Lander considers himself fortunate to play in an era when there is strong recognition for the role indigenous Australians play in rugby league.
“It is phenomenal,” Lander said of the strides that have been made.
“Not just for footy but education and employment strategies. It’s always improving and it’s got to improve.
“It’s part of closing the gap (between indigenous and white Australians).”
Lander knows all about it through his role as an indigenous health worker.
“Rugby league is a stepping stone for a bigger picture. It’s awesome,” he said.