Former Castleford Tigers fan favourite Dean Widders set to star in film

Dean Widders will always be remembered on the Jungle terraces for his time at the club between 2009 and 2011.

An Indigenous Australian, Widders could play anywhere in a team, demonstrating his utility value across the pitch and being known for his rampaging runs and even length-of-the field efforts.

The 42-year-old registered 23 tries in 60 appearances during his three years in West Yorkshire at a time when the Tigers were not exactly pulling up trees.

But, no one perhaps predicted that Widders would be a film star.

The ex-Parramatta Eel is sharing his journey on how a pre-game unity dance turned into a much wider issue. The movie, Araatika: Rise Up!, will feature as part of the Sydney Film Festival next month.

“I have not seen it in finished production,” Widders said. “I want to see it for the first time in the cinema. I’ve seen a few of the rough cuts.

“It’s a story that enables non-indigenous Australian’s to connect with the aboriginal culture. Everyone can draw some inspiration and lessons in life.

“All I did was sit and talk to these people listen to their opinions and advice. There’s no acting. It’s real. I’m hoping when people leave the cinema, they’ve felt a little closer and more connected to the Indigenous culture.”

Alongside Widders, ex-NRL and current stars such as Andrew Johns, David Kidwell and Latrell Mitchell all have a role to play in a bid to get the Australian national side to perform a Haka equivalent before international fixtures.

“That was the start of the journey and where it got publicity but that’s not my journey and it come through in the film,” Widders said.

“As for the Kangaroos doing the dance, that’s up to them. That’s a finish point for everyone as a nation. I’d love it. That’s not my challenge.

“My challenge is connecting with my culture. A national sporting team will do an Indigenous dance before a game, I hope to god it’s rugby league.”

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