Laurie Daley ... dismissed by Anthony Mundine. Photo: Anthony Johnson
LAURIE DALEY was deep in preparing the Indigenous All Stars' battle plan for this year's annual game against the rest of the NRL's best when he learned Anthony Mundine dismissed him and the late Arthur Beetson as "Uncle Toms" - a slur for black men and women who had forgone their heritage to be accepted by white society.
Daley had kept Mundine out of representative teams when "Choc" was a precocious talent at St George Illawarra and the Brisbane Broncos - that was before Mundine labelled rugby league a racist fraternity and embraced boxing.
But recently Mundine made it clear in a press conference before his loss to world IBF middleweight champion Daniel Geale that he didn't think Daley had proclaimed his Aboriginality loudly or strongly enough.
However, Daley, who revealed that his grandmother Grace was an Aborigine in a book he wrote in conjunction with Brad Clyde during the 1994 Kangaroos tour, said he did not take offence at the claim because he was comfortable in his own skin.
"You know what? I'm comfortable knowing who I am and where I am from," he said. "I don't have to tell the world who I am, what I am.''
Daley refused to return any fire because he still thinks fondly of the 37-year-old Mundine, who said a lifetime ago that the then Canberra Raiders five-eighth was running on "old legs" - and that he was The Man.
"I understand he's selling [boxing] tickets so for me it is a non-issue," he said. "I accept people for who they are and if Choc wants to say things, that's his prerogative. He justifies it to himself, so that's fine. I don't worry about what people say about me."
Daley said his association as coach of the Indigenous All Stars had evoked a deep sense of being and a cultural depth.
"For me, it is a time to reflect on history, your past and also where we're headed and what we want to achieve for the indigenous youth along the way," he said.
"It is all positive. [On Friday and Saturday] we held a cultural awareness camp on the Sunshine Coast and the [up to] 60 guys at the camp will all walk away from it feeling better about themselves, their families and who they are. It's great."
While Daley, as NSW State of Origin coach, has been charged with the job of stopping Queensland from winning an eighth straight series, he admitted he had given the Indigenous All Stars his total commitment in the past fortnight.
"It's an exciting concept," he said. "Paul Gallen has had that bad infection in his elbow but he has made himself available and that tells you it isn't a Mickey Mouse game because if it was, players would be pulling out left, right and centre.''