For 14 of the 16 NRL teams, the season was over at least by last week with Penrith and Parramatta contesting an insanely fast paced Grand Final today.
That Grand Final underlines the intensity of the NRL and just how fit and athletic its star players are.
So, when local teams saw NRL stars lining up against them elsewhere this weekend, there was no doubt a bit of nervousness.
This came in the Koori Knockout tournament which was originally designed to showcase the talent of Aboriginal stas who were being overlooked at the time of inception in the 1970s.
Back then it was made up of seven teams, now 150 teams play an important part in the carnival and even the biggest and best NRL stars have gotten involved.
— South Sydney Rabbitohs 🐰 (@SSFCRABBITOHS) October 1, 2022
Former Cronulla man Andrew Fifita as well as Canterbury Bulldog’s electric winger Josh Addo-Carr have been involved, but the headline makers were Latrell Mitchell and former Man of Steel Ben Barba.
Mitchell’s NRL season ended with disappointment last week in defeat to Penrith but he got over for a few tries in the Koori Knockout including a decisive 100 metre intercept to help Walgett to the semi-finals.
Barba also played a starring role with an intercept of his own and creating a try for Mitchell. The fullback spent one and a half seasons with St Helens helping them to the League Leaders’ Shield in 2018 as he picked up the Man of Steel however Grand Final glory alluded him.
It’s interesting to see him shine again and more interesting to see him keep Mitchell out of the fullback spot which he has made his own at Souths in recent seasons.
No doubt they’ve added to a historic tournament which has a key role in Australian rugby league especially given the diversity of the best teams in the modern game.