18 September 2023

Retired rugby league players leave region starstruck

| Sarah Martin
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Teila, Chase and Wayne Hunt got a photo with NRL great James Roberts.

Locals had the chance to rub shoulders with rugby league royalty, and even take a few down with a game of tackle as the Arthur Beetson Foundation Future Immortals Tour stopped in Cooktown, Hope Vale and Wujal Wujal last week.

Headed by Future Immortals ambassador and giant of the sport Petero Civoniceva, more than 20 ex-first grade players spent a packed four days in the region, visiting communities and schools before finishing with a league carnival on Saturday 9 September in Cooktown.

“We were welcome into the three communities by the elders, which was beautiful,” Mr Civoniceva said.

“The boys are just really excited to be here, also the fact that it’s the home of Brenton and Matt Bowen has even more significance for this trip.

“They’re both players that have had huge impacts in rugby league and they come from a small community like Hope Vale, the fact we’re all here to be part of them coming home has been really really special.”

A group of ex-NRL players teamed up with locals for a game of footy on Saturday to finish the ABF Future Immortals Tour.

Mr Civoniceva said the group, which includes Willie Tonga, Steve Southern, Jimmy Roberts and Scott Hill, had a fantastic few days.

“It’s just been an amazing couple of days, we split into groups, some in Wujal Wujal, some in Cooktown and had a wonderful day at Hope Vale,” he said.

“We had a few fundraising nights and of course the big game on Saturday.

“I’ve been up here before but for the majority of the boys it’s their first time, so it’s been great for them.

“They’re just blown away by the hospitality and friendliness of the whole community and the way we’ve been welcome in everywhere we went.”

The Future Immortals Tour brings retired rugby league legends to remote areas, promoting rugby league and healthy lifestyle choices while raising money for local causes.

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