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Greg Inglis: A quiet hero tackling the big issues to change lives

Greg Inglis Kobi Hookey
South Sydney's Greg Inglis with young indigenous sprinter Kobi Hookey at the Block in Redfern. Picture: Gregg Porteous Source: The Daily Telegraph

STANDING in the sunshine on Eveleigh St, Greg Inglis is wearing a shirt emblazoned with his own image. Pulling it off, too.

Not the shirt - the look.

Which prompts us to ask exactly how one decides to go splashing themselves all over hoodies, tees, caps and even backpacks?

"Didn't wanna write a book," Inglis laughs.

Greg Inglis, Adam Reynolds, John Sutton
Greg Inglis celebrates with teammates Adam Reynolds and John Sutton after kicking the winning field goal during Wests Tigers v South Sydney Rabbitohs. Picture: Gregg Porteous

"But honestly, it was never supposed to be a clothing line. Not for adults, anyway. My idea was to create some gear for kids.

"Something to hand out whenever I went to footy carnivals, detention centres, high schools ... actually, that reminds me ..."

Pausing, Inglis turns to indigenous schoolboy Kobi Hookey, 14, handing him an Asics goodie bag complete with shorts, singlet, even schmick runners. And all for the wonderful gift that is potential.

The son of former South Sydney flyer Lee Hookey, Kobi also travels faster than bad news. Inglis likes this.

As revealed in yesterday's Daily Telegraph, the Australian Test star is backing a concept which - organised in conjunction with fellow NRL star Jarryd Hayne - aims to put an Aussie in the 100m final at the 2016 Olympics.

Hayne and fellow organisers, the Competitive Edge management team, have already selected six of eight male runners who will compete, like an athletic version of The Voice, for the Olympic funding, training and mentoring package.

"But they haven't found any indigenous runners," Inglis says.

"I wanna fix that. Because everyone out there has a young Aboriginal kid in their community like Kobi who can really run. So, OK, let me know.

"Contact me through Souths, through The Daily Telegraph ... speak up so I can get a dozen who Haynsey's team can come look at."

Certainly, if anyone can flush out our greatest indigenous talent, it's this man from Macksville.

An emerging Aboriginal leader who, when not earning headlines as the greatest Rabbitoh since Clive Churchill, is working as an indigenous health adviser, a Sydney University recruiter, even a primary school teacher's aide. One day, reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The next, talking with inmates at Long Bay.

"I've always had strong beliefs on certain issues. As a teenager, I was very lucky to be mentored by Melbourne and it's why I want to mentor whichever indigenous kids are picked," Inglis says.

"Importantly, they're also talking academic scholarships too ... stuff that changes a life."

According to Rabbitohs CEO Shane Richardson, Inglis has an entire vision for Aboriginal youth.

"And I'm not talking a quick PR photo with some sick kids. Too often with charity work all people do is talk. But there's a whole lot more to Greg than people realise - he just isn't that keen to promote himself," he says.

Which is why, when it comes time for a picture and the opportunity to plug his new clothing brand, Inglis changes instead into a top provided by sprint scheme sponsor Asics: "If they're putting in the money to change lives, it's the least I can do."

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