BATHURST’S Peter Fitzsimmons and Aaron Williams are ready to journey overseas as part of the Indigenous Australian Invitational Rugby Tour to the USA and Canada.
The tour is an opportunity for Bathurst Bulldogs’ Fitzsimmons and Orange City’s Williams to not only face strong international opposition but to experience a range of special cultural activities.
The Bathurst duo and their 26-strong playing group are currently in Townsville for a training camp and will jet out to New York on Saturday morning.
Five games of rugby await the Australian squad against United States Military Academy (West Point, Tuesday), Portland Rugby Football Club (Portland, Maine, Wednesday), Oshawa Vikings (Toronto, 23rd), American All Native Squad (Denver, 26th) and California State University Long Beach (Los Angeles, 28th).
Volunteer work at a teen shelter, coaching clinics and plenty of sightseeing are among a packed itinerary.
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“It’s awesome to get this chance. I can wait to meet the rest of the boys and have the chance to play rugby overseas,” Fitzsimmons said.
“It’ll also be great to experience the Indigenous programs over there and seeing how they do things, bringing something back to help with what we’re doing here.
“We might have been lucky that the Blowes Clothing Cup season was shorter. Usually you’re pretty weary and ready for a rest but I’m feeling ready to go.”
“I’m really excited about the opportunity and it’ll be a great experience, I’m sure,” Williams said.
“I’m keen to meet the rest of the team and play some footy. Other than a couple of the boys it’ll be new faces for me.
“I was invited back in pre-season this year but it feels like it’s come around pretty quick.”
Bathurst is strongly represented in the tour staff through Peter Nugent (manager), David Conyers (backs coach and technical advisor) and Ross Wilson (team doctor).
Nugent said the tour is focused equally on the off-field events and the rugby clashes.
“It’s an opportunity for us to give back a little bit to rugby. I see it as a wonderful opportunity for Peter, Aaron and the rest of the boys in the squad to experience another country and look at another culture,” he said.
“It’s a chance to see how Indigenous people in other cultures work and live and involve themselves in the game of rugby.
“The tour’s about developing the players as leaders, and I hope that Peter and Aaron can return to Bathurst with something really special to add to their lives.”