Not that he was ever in any doubt, but a 10-year-old boy living in western Queensland further convinced Broncos legend Steve Renouf about the influence of rugby league, and the impact that Preston Campbell has had on the lives of people in the community.
Renouf, one of the most brilliant players of his era, will join Campbell and a host of rugby league stars including Mal Meninga and Greg Inglis as guest speakers at the Preston Campbell Foundation’s Icons For Change Breakfast at the Sofitel Broadbeach on February 21.
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Renouf said Campbell was not only an Icon For Change, but an icon of the game – with the legacy he has created for rugby league putting him alongside some of the biggest name’s in the game’s history for the impact he has created.
“I named Preston as one of the all-time influential Indigenous players in the game alongside the likes of Arthur Beetson and Johnathan Thurston,” Renouf said.
“I was at the Sydney Football Stadium when the Australian Indigenous Dreamtime side played the New Zealand Maori in 2008.
“From that moment, Preston pushed hard and took on the task of developing the Indigenous All-Stars concept which kicked off two years later on the Gold Coast.
“We were all very proud that first night when people came from the Northern Territory and everywhere to watch it.
“Preston's legacy in that area alone has had a huge impact on Indigenous players.
“Plenty of them have learned for the first time about their culture and their own backgrounds just from being in camp.”
While Renouf said what Campbell achieved in his time as a rugby league player was inspirational enough, it is his post-football career at the helm of the Preston Campbell Foundation that is having the most life-changing effects.
“I have the opportunity now to work with Deadly Choices and partner with the Preston Campbell Foundation where he does some great work in the communities,” Renouf said.
“To give you an idea of his influence, I went out to St George in western Queensland where an Aboriginal mum introduced me to her 10-year-old son.
“His name was Preston Thurston.
“I think that says it all really.”