Wallabies share experiences at Juvenile Justice Centre

The Rugby Championship
Matt Lewis Profile
by Matt Lewis

The Wallabies took time away from rugby this week to try and inspire young men from the Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre.

The Wallabies have spent the last five days on the Central Coast preparing for the opening Bledisloe and David Pocock, Dane Haylett-Petty, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Sekope Kepu met 120 boys and men aged between 16-21.

The Wallabies spent more two hours chatting with the inmates, answering questions, telling stories.

Pocock, who is a strong advocate of social justice, said the experience put a lot of things in perspective for the players.

Tatafu Polota-Nau chats to inmates at the Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley

"It was pretty sobering," he said.

"It's a reminder of just how important it is to try and build a more equitable society.

"You look at the rising income inequality and the issues that it leads to and realising that different parents, different circumstances that could very well be you in there," he said.

Pocock said he hoped they had been able to leave some sort of impression on the group.

"It was great to go and have a chat to some of the young guys in there, some amazing young men. It was only a few hours but hopefully we left them with something," he said.

Pocock has never shied away from advocating for what he believes in and the Wallabies flanker said visits like these were a crucial part of being a high-profile athlete.

"Like it or not, if you play professional sport in Australia you're a role model," he said.

The inmates met the Wallabies following their talk. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley

"With privilege comes responsibility, and as the Wallabies we have a huge amount of privilege from the community and with that comes a lot of responsibility so it's great to be able to give back in some small way.

"The disproportionate number of Indigenous young men in there really stood out and just seeing how much admiration they had for Kurtley Beale was pretty special."

David Lang, assistant principal of the Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre's school said the youths would a take a lot away from the meeting.

"They're a little bit slow to get started, but they were super interested and it's not just boys as I said that were asking the questions, everyone was really attentive, and they were listening," he said.

"There was a lot of stuff that the players said that was outside of rugby, about goal setting and doing the right thing by your self and surrounding yourself with good people and just a lot of really good life lessons that those boys could take with them and hopefully use in the future."

The Wallabies will return to Sydney ahead of the opening Bledisloe Test on August 20.