Learoyd-Lahrs puts his weight behind indigenous camp
Raiders forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs training ahead of the 2012 NRL All Stars game. Photo: NRLphotos.com
Canberra Raiders prop Tom Learoyd-Lahrs has thrown his considerable weight behind an indigenous NRL camp to be held on the Sunshine Coast next month.
He's also thrown his hat in the ring to join the Indigenous Leadership Group, which was looking to expand and become much more vocal in 2013.
Learoyd-Lahrs said the Polynesian players had already developed a similar concept to the indigenous camp and he's looking forward to it.
Organised by Kangaroos stars Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston, every Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island player will congregate on the Sunshine Coast for the two days before the NRL All Stars game February 9.
''I know the Polynesian boys have a similar concept in place and with indigenous players making up such a large percentage of the NRL these days it's only fitting we have a similar cultural awareness and obviously leading into the All Stars week is the best time to do it,'' Learoyd-Lahrs told Fairfax Media on Monday.
''After being at the All Star camps over the past couple of years, there's varying degrees of cultural awareness amongst the players - some guys have a real strong awareness probably as a result of where they've been brought up.
''A Matty Bowen has been brought up in a remote Aboriginal community and has a really good grasp of cultural things compared to some guys, just to get everyone on the same level and a chance to learn more - it can't hurt.''
Learoyd-Lahrs has represented the Indigenous All Stars three times (2010, 2011, 2012) and was hopeful of getting selected again this year, but he would have to overcome a niggling hamstring problem.
He said the All Stars game had quickly become an important part of the NRL calendar, having been embraced by both the indigenous and larger communities.
The current Indigenous Leadership Group is Inglis, Thurston, Sam Thaiday, Matt Bowen and Nathan Merritt, but it's hoping to expand.
Learoyd-Lahrs was one of the names suggested as a perfect addition.
It's an honour the towering prop is more than happy to take on.
But his first priority was getting over his injury and getting ready for the 2013 NRL season - a year he in which he hopes the Raiders can break their odd-year curse.
They haven't made the finals in an odd-year since 2003.
Learoyd-Lahrs was hoping a return to fitness would help the Raiders end the hoodoo and be the impetus for a return to representative football.
He played in the last three City-Country games, but not in State of Origin or as a Kangaroo since 2010.
''It's just a matter of doing the preparation and trying to get myself as fit and healthy as I can and take it from there, but [returning to rep footy] that's definitely a goal of mine,'' Learoyd-Lahrs said.
''That comes off the back of good form at club level.
''That's my main priority, I just want to get back to my best brand of footy, go back to doing the things I know work for me, the things that are your bread and butter, and that's my first goal,'' he says.
''Once I get that right, then I'll worry about things down the track.''