All Stars games could get bigger venue - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

All Stars games could get bigger venue

By Laine Clark 09/02/2010 09:11:06 PM Comments (0)

If Michael Searle has one regret about the upcoming All Stars rugby league showcase he helped create, it's that it has become too successful.

And the inaugural game hasn't even been played yet.

Searle - who came up with the All Stars concept with Gold Coast playmaker Preston Campbell - has already described Saturday night's match at Skilled Park as a "fourth Origin".

The NRL versus Indigenous All Stars event has been locked up at the Gold Coast for the next three years.

But talks with the NRL could begin as early as Monday on whether to move the annual event to a bigger venue, such has been the overwhelming response.

Searle said he would fight to maintain the match on the Gold Coast for as long as he could.

"It's a bit greedy," he laughed.

"It's an acknowledgment of the event that we are talking about that before the game has even kicked off.

"The success of the event may have outgrown our stadium which is disappointing, but you have to look at the broader view."

Searle said the game already "smells like a fourth Origin".

But the sold-out clash has become much more.

It is seen by the NRL as a way to combat the AFL's influence in south-east Queensland with the emergence of a Gold Coast Australian rules franchise next year.

However, Searle believes it could also lay a solid foundation for reconciliation in Australia.

The game is expected to raise $1.5 million to be pumped into a range of community programs via all 16 NRL clubs.

And the federal government is in partnership with the Indigenous All Stars team.

It announced on Tuesday that halfback Scott Prince had become the Indigenous ambassador for the Department of Education, Employment and Work Place Relations Indigenous Education campaign dubbed "Learn, Earn, Legend!".

The match was purposely organised to be held on the second anniversary of the federal government's apology to the stolen generation.

"I see it as a game that is part of the healing process," Prince said.

But Searle admits it would have been easy for the NRL to say "no" when he pitched the idea with Campbell early last year.

"I applaud the game of rugby league for taking the initiative," he said.

"It would have been a lot easier to say 'no', maybe even the popular view that an event like this shouldn't take place.

"But I think it shows the maturity of our country, that we are starting to get on with life.

"I think everyone is just going to come here and enjoy the footy, which is what reconciliation is all about.

"(But) as a game we haven't scratched the surface of the impact this will have on young indigenous Australians."

ARL Indigenous Council chairman William "Smiley" Johnstone agreed.

"You can say reconciliation is just a word but when people are doing practical things at community and other levels that make a difference on people's lives, I don't think you can get a better explanation of reconciliation," he said.

NRL boss David Gallop said of the concept: "It could only be done in rugby league.

"This can't be called an 'us versus them' concept - it is about embracing the cultural diversity that is unique to rugby league," he said.

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