Beale critical to Indigenous rugby growth: Ella

by Sam Phillips

The story of Kurtley Beale is one that will inspire Indigenous children across Australia, according to Wallabies legend Glen Ella.

Both Glen and brother Gary were on hand to unveil an enormous Wallabies jersey draped over the Kangaroo Point cliffs and they beamed with pride as they pulled on their very own Indigenous jerseys.

It was a moment of pure joy for two thirds of an Aboriginal family that lit up the code in the 1980s, a time when no such concept had been given any thought, let alone put into practice.

"In our day - that's going back a fair few years - there wasn't that much mention of Aboriginal culture and what it has done but that was different times," Glen Ella said.

"For so long we were jealous of the All Blacks playing in jerseys and supporting the Maori culture - New Zealand have done that for so long and now Australian teams are doing it," Gary Ella added.

"The Queensland rugby team have been wearing Indigenous jerseys for a couple of years and now we have got the Wallabies in a jersey - it's simply fantastic."Gary and Glen Ella smile for the cameras. Photo: WalmsleyGlen said the benefits of wearing the jersey on the biggest stage of all - a Bledisloe Cup match - would prove multi faceted, particularly when Indigenous children see Beale leading the Wallabies attack.

"It's not just a muck around game - it's a Bledisloe Cup game against the All Blacks so we have put it onto that pedestal where it's a really serious game and that's great for the game and great for Aboriginal people," he said.

"This might also entice young Aboriginal kids that rugby's not a bad sport and we need more Aboriginal kids playing rugby for Australia.

"If you look at Kurtley Beale for example, he's a good example of a kid that has come from no where.

"He's from the western suburbs of Sydney, he busted his backside and now he has achieved so much in the game.

"He's probably one of the best players for Australia this year and now he has a big future - a big five or six years with the Wallabies.

"Hopefully they beat the All Blacks this week and one of these jumper's will be like hen's teeth - you won't be able to buy them anywhere."

While both brothers were delighted to see their culture be recognised as an integral part of rugby's fabric, Glen echoed coach Michael Cheika's comments that there is still plenty of work to be done in raising the number of Indigenous players choosing rugby over AFL and NRL.

"It's vastly important - we have only had 14 Aboriginal players for the Wallabies and we really need to increase that number," Ella said.

"You look at AFL, NRL, they've got great numbers, Aboriginal playing numbers - and we need to replicate that."

Australia hosts New Zealand in Brisbane on Saturday October 21, kicking off at 7pm AEST, 8pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Netowrk Ten, Win and RADIO.