WHEN Rabbitohs player and coach Kelly Conway talks Central Highlands rugby league, his passion for the game is evident.
After taking his beloved Highlanders side to within a whisker of a Plate Premiership at the Indigenous Reconciliation Carnival in Rockhampton, Conway believes the best is yet to come.
“It was the strongest team we have put together in four years,” he said.
“Slowly we’re getting better and better.”
Scores matter but of greater importance to this country league aficionado was the significance of pulling on the Highlander jersey.
“It is all about the pride in the jersey and where they come from,” he said.
“It’s good for rugby league and good for country footy – good camaraderie is what makes these carnivals.”
He said a lot of the team’s success this year came from the assistance of neighbouring Central Highlands’ clubs and players who volunteered to be involved.
“Everyone seems to think it’s just an Aboriginal carnival but it’s not, we don’t mind who gets in and has a go.”
He said the side’s understated reputation served them well throughout the tournament with some teams a little taken back at the quality of football produced by the Highlanders.
“We were the surprise packet of the carnival this year.
“Our team only had the one team training run on the Friday, while some of these other teams had been training for weeks.
“We had nothing to prove – these things (team development) take time,” he said.
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