Brisbane Broncos CEO Paul White has apologised to Steve Renouf after the NRL legend pulled back the curtain on his experiences with racism at the club.
Renouf, an Indigenous man, is one of Brisbane’s favourite sons and became a staple in the Queensland Origin team during the 1990s.
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The iconic centre scored 142 tries in 183 games for the Broncos before leaving at the end of the 1999 season and has opened up publicly for the first time about racist attitudes at Red Hill.
In an emotional interview with NRL.com, published during the NRL’s Indigenous Round, Renouf fought back tears as he told a story that, until now, footy fans had never heard.
“It wasn’t directed at me but I was very well aware of it when I came to Brisbane,” Renouf said. “There were certain things players were saying.
“There used to be this saying (at the Broncos), NBD.
“I used to think, ‘Oh gee, I wonder what that acronym means’. I asked one of my mates at the footy club, I can’t remember who it was, and he said, ‘You don’t know what that is?’ I said no. So he told me and he said, ‘It’s n****r, b**ng, darky’.
“And I’ve gone, ‘Wow’.
“As a kid I’ve just gone, ‘Oh OK’. But once again you block that out.
“The reason why you get a bit emotional is because it’s my club.
“The reason why that does hurt a bit is because in hindsight, you look back and I deflected a lot of that.”
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Renouf arrived in Brisbane as a 17-year-old in 1988 and went on to win four premierships with the NRL powerhouse.
But as a teenager, he was shocked to find out how the players he’d grown up idolising referred to Indigenous Australians.
At the time he didn’t speak up because he was just a rookie and didn’t know how to handle the situation.
“It was a real ‘wow’ moment for me, even as a 17 or 18-year-old, thinking that’s a bit full-on that they use code around a racist term,” Renouf said.
“It was crushing that this was coming out of the mouths of guys I used to watch on TV only a year before.
“It just showed to me that it has been around a long time, racism, but it was a different era.”
Renouf was adamant Brisbane was “not a racist club” and suggested other teams would have had similar stories during the era he played in.
“The Pearl” became one of rugby league’s best centres.Source:The Courier-Mail
After hearing of Renouf’s experiences, Paul White was quick to apologise.
“The Broncos offer a complete and unreserved apology to Steve Renouf, and any other Indigenous player or staff member who endured any such comments,” he said, per NRL.com.
“Comments such as these have no place in our society nor our game — you can see the impact that those words are still having on Steve today, more than 30 years after he was subjected to them.
“Today at the Broncos we are doing all we can to give back to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who hold a central and very special place in our club.”
Renouf believes Australia has a problem with racism today, saying too often kids learn behaviour and language from adults who should be setting a better example.
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