Origin: Blues call in on Aboriginal community

The Blues players broke from training and spent their afternoon in the Coffs Harbour community becoming the first sporting team to visit an Aboriginal estate on the fringes of the city's town square.

Their visit – where they were treated to traditional Aboriginal dancing – followed a coaching clinic on Thursday. About 70 people live in 12 cottages at the Wongala Estate, which began housing people in the 1950s. The first cottages had no internal doors and water was not connected.

Blues back-rower Greg Bird said his culture had taken on a greater importance since playing for the Indigenous All-Stars in 2010, which was coached by NSW mentor Laurie Daley.

"My grandmother is Kamilaroi," Bird said. "She's down in Tamworth. I didn't grow up with the culture at all. She was taken away at a young age. She grew up with not very happy thoughts towards Aboriginality. I've done some research with people in my family and found out a lot more.

"A lot of the guys we played with in the first All-Stars camp hadn't had much to do with it – blokes like Johnathan Thurston and Scott Prince. It was only after that game that they went out and searched family members and find out histories.

"I'd have to sit down with her and it'll be an uncomfortable situation for her so I probably wouldn't put her in it. My uncles have found out little bit of details but it's a tough situation."

Bird has played in all four games for the Indigenous All Stars. He has called for the match to return to the NRL schedule after it was skipped this year, describing it as an "integral part of the NRL calendar". Last year's Word Cup and the first Auckland Nines tournament earlier this year forced the cancellation of the All Stars match.

"These guys are tucked away here and have probably never asked for a team to come," Bird said. "It's good to come and sign a few autographs and make them happy."

Daley added: "The boys wanted to come here. No other sporting team has ever come and said 'G'day'. The players signed autographs and posed for photos. The kids and elders really appreciated it.

"It was special and significant."

This story Origin: Blues call in on Aboriginal community first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.