Muirhead's quest to inspire the next generation of First Nations players

· Super Rugby - AU
by RUGBY.com.au staff

Brumbies winger Andy Muirhead is looking to become the next First Nations player to pull on the gold jersey for the Wallabies.

Muirhead was selected as part of the Wallabies 40-man squad as coach Dave Rennie prepares for a three-test series against France in July.

The selection is well deserved for Muirhead, who has been an integral part of the Brumbies' success over the past 18 months.

In the Brumbies backline that won the 2020 Super Rugby AU final, only Muirhead had not represented his country, missing out on selection for the end-of-year Internationals.

It made the message of his inclusion even more special, delivered by team-mate and fellow Wallabies squad member Len Ikitau.

“The start of last year I thought I was in a position to put my hand up for a more frequent role at the Brumbies squad and in turn, getting some eyes on the Wallabies selectors,” he told the media on Tuesday.

“Last year it didn’t happen and I felt I was in a good position this year. I didn’t really get my hopes up because last year I was disappointed that I wasn’t there.

“We had training on Sunday when it was named and Lenny (Ikitau) came up to me and gave me a big hug and it was pretty surreal.

“I was fairly emotional inside and I was pretty happy to get some sort of recognition. I know there’s a long way to go towards playing the Wallabies and making the next squad but to be able to have my foot in the door…I was pretty stoked with that.”

His inclusion in the training camp takes him one step closer to becoming the next First Nations Wallaby.

For Muirhead, the opportunity to inspire the next generation of rugby players and follow the likes of Beale, Walker and Ella was crucial, starting out in the sport through the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development program.

“I’ve always said there’s a big market and pool of talented Indigenous kids out there and I think the more we can do as a game within rugby is a huge thing,” Muirhead believes.

“I’m a big position to try and influence those Indigenous kids to strive and be a Wallaby or strive to play Super Rugby.

“I’m proud to be here and I’m proud to be an Aboriginal man. I’m hoping I can influence some little kids’ life to do something similar.

“I’ve had a fair few guys from Lloydies (Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team) program reach out to me and they are super proud.

“I’m sure as things venture on and progress, I’ll get some advice from some of the past guys because they are good fellas that are always there to give support.”

His Aboriginal background adds to the ever-growing diversity of the Wallabies team.

Under Dave Rennie, accepting and understand the backgrounds of each player has been a cornerstone, which was instantly noticeable by Muirhead.

“It’s been quite evident since we’ve come to Sydney that culture is a huge thing,” he added.

“It’s quite pleasing to come into a fresh environment to see how important it is to him and the team, we’ve spoken in multiple team meetings.

“It’s something you want to be a part of, a good culture and a team that works on that generally performs well on the field so I’m looking forward to contributing where I can.”

 

Words: Nathan Williamson

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