Tony Currie, a memorable ex- Bulldogs Player, held the positions of centre and wing for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs from 1986-1988. During his years with the Bulldogs he made 39 appearances, scoring 12 tries and assisting the team with 25 victories, as well as being part of the 1988 Premiership winning team against the Balmain Tigers.
In the lead-up to this year's Indigenous Round, Currie sits down to discuss what it was like for him to play rugby league as an Indigenous Australian.
What's your Indigenous region?
My traditional country is on my Grandfathers side, Arthur Currie, Mununjali territory ranging from the Tweed to Beaudesert. It is a subsection of the great Bundjalung region which crosses from northern NSW into Queensland. I also have connection to Butchella Country from my Grandmother's side. It is basically Fraser Island area. I value greatly my Indigenous heritage. It is who I am.
What does Indigenous Round mean to you?
Indigenous Round is a fantastic opportunity to showcase ATSI talent. Our best players in our game are some of the best Indigenous men to represent our culture and heritage. I also think it is a great conduit to connecting mainstream Australia to the social issues that face Indigenous Australia.
What was it like playing rugby league as an Indigenous player?
I faced Racism and Bigotry growing up and playing Rugby League. I'm am not your typical dark skinned Aboriginal because my Father is white but as soon as the opposition knew of my Indigenous heritage all the usual comments were shouted. I really didn't let it affect me because I was too into winning matches. I can honestly say the barbs were there but because of my focus I had little time to process the insults. We have just celebrated 100 years since the end of World War 1 and many, many Indigenous men volunteered to fight. I guess they wanted to be accepted as equals and went to war. My plight was nothing compared to them but I wanted to play good football and be accepted by my peers.
What does it mean to you that the NRL are recognising and celebrating Indigenous athletes?
The NRL need to do more for Indigenous football. We are true entertainers and bring people and sponsors through the gate. Indigenous players hold country football together and go a tremendous way in keeping the game alive out west. The NRL need to force clubs to look inland rather than the Pacific for the continual growth of Rugby League. We need to weight the value of Offshore players in the Salary Cap. I feel the culture of Rugby League has been compromised and its value seriously diminished in terms of Volunteers, Coaches, Referees, Parents and Players. The battle for our future is for grass. By that I mean every time we lose a club we lose Fields. If we are to grow we will need fields. We keep losing assets of our great game and our leaders are asleep at the wheel. Rant Over. Thank you Bulldogs. It was the most enjoyable football my life and I have ever been involved in. Yes, we won a Grand Final but the family club was truly the Family club.