1 February 2019

Federal Government collaboration to deliver biggest ever Koori Rugby League Knockout

The picturesque Central Coast town of Tuggerah has been confirmed as the host venue for this year's Koori Knockout rugby league tournament over the October long weekend.

The announcement was made at a media conference to announce a significant combined funding pledge between the Federal Government and the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) to support the iconic event.

The funding collaboration of a guaranteed $280,000 will ensure this year's Koori Knockout is the largest and most professional edition in the tournament's proud history.

In a further boost for the Knockout, the Federal Government has made a $200,000 per year committment for the next four years to ensure the sustainability of the event.

Under the agreement, NSWALC will administer the funds and work with the tournament's host club Newcastle All Blacks, who earned the hosting rights by winning last year's event.

"NSWALC has made a long-standing commitment to the Koori Knockout. It is a key community event and we are ensuring that continues by lending our support to the Newcastle All Blacks as this year's host," NSWALC Chairman Roy Ah-See said.

"NSWALC has collaborated with the Federal Government to secure additional funding this year so it promises to be one of the most memorable Koori Knockouts we've ever seen. We're really looking forward to assisting Newcastle All Blacks going forward. It is a big tournament so that work starts immediately."

As well as funding the staging and broadcast of the tournament, the collaboration will directly assist teams, with money used to ease the financial burden of participating.

"The Knockout is the highlight of the year for our mob, but travel and accommodation costs can make it a struggle for many teams to attend, particularly those from remote parts of the state," Cr Ah-See said.

"Our support can make the difference between teams getting to the Knockout or missing out."

Indigenous Affairs Minister, Senator Nigel Scullion said it was the first time the Federal Government had collaborated with NSWALC to financially support the iconic event.

"The $200 thousand the Morrison Government is providing to NSWALC for the Knockout recognises the importance of this event to Aboriginal people in NSW," Senator Scullion said.

"The Knockout has been described as a modern-day corrobboree.  It's the largest gathering of Aboriginal people in Australia and one of the largest Indigenous gatherings in the world."

"We are proud to partner with NSWALC and the Newcastle All Blacks to ensure this year's Koori Knockout is once again a success."

Parramatta Eels star Blake Ferguson, who won the 2018 Grand Final with the Sydney Roosters, said NRL clubs release players for the Knockout because they understand how important the event is to Aboriginal communities.

"As a young fella, the Knockout meant everything to me and that's still the case today," Ferguson said.

"I've been very fortunate to win a Premiership and play for my country and state, but nothing compares to representing my mob at the Knockout," he said.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander NRL stars not involved in the grand final regularly feature in the Knockout along with retired stars, country legends and up and coming players from across the state.

This year around 30,000 people are expected to attend the Knockout, supporting 140 teams and providing a major boost for local Central Coast businesses.