Written by Zack Wilson
Photo by Photosport
The recent clash between the Australian Indigenous All Stars and the New Zealand Maori was great occasion.
The Australian Indigenous team won the game 34-14 in front of a crowd of 18,802 at AAMI Park, with plenty of entertainment provided for those spectators.
The pre-game rituals were great too, with the Indigenous War Cry and the Maori Haka facing each other before kick-off.
As a celebration of cultures which have been historically marginalised since the colonial era, the match was excellent.
Hopefully, it will now go on to become a fixed part of the rugby league schedule.
It could offer our game so much, in terms of publicity and profile too.
Teams like this could be used to trigger more interest in the United States and Canada.
The concept of an Indigenous team is one that could be exported to those two countries.
Americans would love the exoticism of the fixture, and, one day it could be played somewhere like Hawaii, or even on mainland USA or in Canada.
One day in the far future, you could see the Maori play the Indigenous in North America, with an Indigenous USA team playing Canada First Nations on the same day.
Rugby league is a sport which celebrates the contribution of Indigenous Australian, Maroi and Pacific Islands players.
We need to show the rest of the world that we do that, and more games for these teams is an ideal way to show it.
This kind of opposition would have been ideal for a touring Great Britain team.
A game of this type would surely have excited the interest of enough people to make it, and, by extension, the rest of the tour, profitable.
The Great Britain tour should have been confirmed by the time you read this, but it has taken such as long time to get it sorted.
The endless negotiations over something that other sports find so simple continues to embarrass us.
The Maori and Indigenous teams deserve to play more games. Matches against a touring team like Great Britain would raise their profile massively.
If we are serious about breaking into North America and becoming a proper global sport then we need to start thinking beyond just the next six months.
It is the equivalent of living from pay cheque to pay cheque, and everyone knows how stressful and unrewarding that is.
If Great Britain is to return properly then it needs proper tour games that give a proper sense of occasion, of something special happening that is outside the norm.
The Lions should be playing the Maori and Indigenous Australian teams on every future tour.
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