HomeAustraliaThere are no Indigenous NRL coaches, but historic decider shows change on...

There are no Indigenous NRL coaches, but historic decider shows change on way

“I’m willing to put myself in the shopfront window for the next generation of coaches that are coming through because that’s what it’s about,” Griffiths says.

“If we can provide opportunities for them, then we’ve done our job. Opportunity leads to success, but where do you get the opportunity? I had a lot of support along the way, but I went and searched for an opportunity and it came after that.”

Both men speak of the stereotype attached to Indigenous players.

How many times have you heard one referred to as an instinctive or off-the-cuff player? Griffiths and Widders want to change the perception that First Nations players are just born with a gift, rather than relentlessly honing their craft.

“Players like [Josh] Addo-Carr had to train [his] speed to the level he’s at,” Widders says.

“Cody Walker had to practise and practise and practise to the point where he’s great at reading the game and watching mannerisms of players so he can read defensive lines. He sees different momentum swings and patterns in games. We put a lot of work into that stuff. It’s not something where we just turn up on Sunday and run the footy.

“There needs to be more recognition we come with strategy and a mindset to build tactics into a game. You add work ethic to that and I think that’s underappreciated with our mob, and why we haven’t broken into the ranks of NRL [coaching].”

Walker has openly discussed his plans to forge a post-playing career path in coaching. He knows the significance of having Griffiths and Widders in the coaching box on grand final day, though he would have loved to have been playing himself in the match directly after.

After coaching against each other on Sunday, Griffiths and Widders are a chance of reuniting on Monday, when they are expected to commentate the women’s final at the Koori Knockout in Nowra.

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“I hope Ronnie feels proud two of us can do this together.” Widders says.

“I’ve got no doubt there’s barriers we’ve got to break down. There are difficulties and that’s why guys like myself and Ronnie and the other guys who are coaching in the NRLW are so important at the moment. We’ve got to make sure we can leave something for the next generation to build on.

“We might not be the first Indigenous NRL coaches, but hopefully we can build a platform where a Cody Walker is coaching an NRL team one day.”

Watch the NRL grand final exclusive, live and free on Channel 9 and 9Now.

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