NRL players have added their voices to calls for more Indigenous coaches within the game's ranks.
It follows NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo indicating his organisation might consider a version of the NFL's 'Rooney Rule', which mandates interviewing ethnic-minority candidates when filling senior football operations positions including head coach.
Abdo told reporters at the NRL's Indigenous Round launch the league would consider fast-tracking Indigenous coaches into senior roles, admitting it needed to do more to create opportunities for leadership and management positions and pathway.
Asked if he'd support a similar hiring rule in the NRL, Canberra forward and Wiradjuri man Adam Elliott said he'd "leave politics to others", but indicated more could be done to get Indigenous people into roles after their playing careers.
"I think there's a stat out there that around 13 per cent of NRL players are Indigenous, but I think it's a lot less than that in the staff and clubs in general, whether it's coaches or not," he told reporters.
"There definitely is room to improve there and things could be put in place but it's definitely not me who should be making those calls."
South Sydney winger and Saibai Country man Alex Johnstone was asked why there might be a potential disconnect in getting Indigenous players into coaching gigs post-footy.
"I don't know if many are putting their hands up, if that's the problem or not," he told reporters.
"But we've got a lot of talent and a lot of guys that could possibly coach.
"Maybe I'll coach when I retire - touch wood it's a long time from now - but I'll put my hand up for sure."
Meanwhile, Canberra will have no shortage of Indigenous players this weekend with Elliott joined in the side by Jack Wighton (Wiradjuri Country), Seb Kris (Mabuiag and Saibai Island), Xavier Savage (Birri Gubba, Gunggandji and Erub Island) and Jamal Fogarty (Mununjali).
Elliott said he was only too proud to share stories of his culture with his teammates, whether it was Indigenous Round or not.
"Between me and Jamal, I think many of the boys in the team don't get a rest from it," he said with a laugh.
"We can talk with the best of them and it's cool to be able to talk to the other boys in the team about the jersey and what it means and they know how special it is.
"(The five Indigenous Raiders) have earned those spots too ... between the five of us hopefully one of us can get a try and shake a leg out there and represent a little bit."
Australian Associated Press
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