Rugby League family legacy lives on with Under-17 Invitational win

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The rugby league family is thriving in NSW, as evidenced by the NSW Under-17 Invitational Team taking on the touring Warrington Wolves at the HE Laybutt Sports Center in Blacktown tomorrow.

Among the 18 players selected are Toby Rodwell and Zach Fittler, sons of former NSW Aboriginal players Brett Rodwell and Brad Fittler.

The elder Rodwell played for the Illawarra Steelers and Rabbitohs from 1989 to 1999, scoring 70 goals in 202 games, while Fittler played for Penrith and the Sydney Roosters, winning two premierships in 336 games. 336 matches, winning two premierships and captaining and coaching the NSW Aboriginals.

Nikora Williams, whose father played 13 Tests for New Zealand, was also in the squad, and between 1987 and 1998 Williams played for the Western Suburbs, Eastern Suburbs, South Sydney, Canterbury-Bankstown and the Sydney Roosters, winning two premierships. South Sydney, Canterbury-Bankstown and Penrith, scoring 63 times in 145 first-year games.

James Croker is also the younger brother of Manly Warringah hooker Lachlan Croker and nephew of former NSW Aboriginal player Jason Croker.

Williams is carving his own path in rugby league. He helped the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks reach this year’s UNE Harold Matthews Cup final before being selected as a center for the Australian boys’ schoolboys’ team ), which played the Junior Cummies in Port Moresby last month, in the centers.

“I’m very excited,” Williams told

“I’m very lucky to have been selected for the Papua New Guinea men’s team. It shows me how lucky I am to have so many good things around me.”

Williams selectively takes advice from his international fly-half father.

“I gave him that opportunity most of the time because he always talks about my shoveling, but he’s never shoveled at wing,” he said.

“Listen, seriously, he taught me a lot …… , dad kept me humble, told me I had to do better and not to give me too much praise.

“That’s a good thing – to keep a balance.

Rodwell’s father played an Origin match for NSW in 1995 and three matches for NSW.

“He didn’t wear the (NSW) jersey for very long, but the jersey is still very special to him and his family,” Rodwell said.

Rodwell won the 2022 Under-16 Country-City Championship Player of the Year and captained the Sydney Roosters Harold Matthews side that finished 11th in 2023.

“This year’s results were certainly not what we wanted or expected. But it was still a fun season with a great bunch of lads,” Rodwell said.

Rugby League family legacy lives on with Under-17 Invitational win

“It was great to finish the season with another great team.

Both Williams and Rodwell are grateful to NSW Under-17 Invitational coach Geoff Toovey and True Blue teammates Nathan Hindmarsh, Steve Menzies and Boyd Cordner for their help during the camp.

“It was great. I went through the Roosters …… know Boyd very well. He really knows himself and I was able to learn a lot more from him,” said Rodwell.

Williams added, “Jeff has played in finals, state Native American tournaments and test matches. He is a great player.

“He has always taught us to be brave and strong no matter what happens.

“When someone like Boyd Cordner talks, you listen. He was the captain of his state and country.”

The NSW Under-17 Invitational team beat the Warrington Wolves 32-16 in Saturday’s match. Williams and Rodwell were both standout players for NSW.

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