Tyrell Sloan in brutal development amid Latrell Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr debate

Questions are being asked about whether stars should be playing in non-NRL sanctioned tournaments.

Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and Tyrell Sloan.
Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and Tyrell Sloan all played in the Koori Knockout. Image: Getty

Debate has intensified over whether NRL clubs should allow their players to participate in non-sanctioned tournaments after Tyrell Sloan suffered a serious ankle injury in last weekend's Koori Knockout. It came to light on Thursday night that the Dragons fullback will undergo scans on a potential syndesmosis injury, which usually requires surgery.

If Sloan does have to go under the knife, he will likely be sidelined for eight to 10 weeks. He should be back before the start of the new NRL season, but it would hamper his pre-season under new coach Shane Flanagan and might affect his chances of making first grade in 2024.

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Sloan's injury comes after questions had been asked about whether NRL stars should be playing in the Koori Knockout. The Indigenous carnival takes place every year across the October long weekend, and sees bush and park footy players line up against some of the stars of the NRL.

Sloan was joined by Jack Wighton, Latrell Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr as NRL players to feature in the four-day carnival. But debate has erupted over whether NRL clubs should allow their players to feature in the non-NRL sanctioned tournament, especially considering the dramas that have engulfed Addo-Carr.

The Bulldogs winger is reportedly set to be handed a two-game suspension from the NRL after he was involved in a wild all-in brawl while playing for the Sydney All Blacks. Police were called to the ground in Tuggerah on the NSW Central Coast after spectators became involved in the fighting.

Tyrell Sloan, pictured here in action for the Dragons in the NRL.
Tyrell Sloan in action for the Dragons in the NRL. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Mitchell's participation also raised eyebrows considering he was later deemed unavailable for Kangaroos selection due to injury. The Rabbitohs fullback is dealing with a finger injury from late in the season, and although Souths allowed him to play in the Koori Knockout he was later ruled out of playing for the Kangaroos in the upcoming Pacific Championships.

After Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga said he was "surprised" to see Mitchell playing the Koori Knockout given he wasn't available for national duty, Souths said the fullback only played about 10 minutes and wouldn't have been up to Test level. Mitchell later said: “I play for my country because I love it. It’s not my time to put the jersey on this year. It’s for someone that deserves a crack! I will be back. Koori knockout was to simply give back to so many that deserve it. I love my culture and my people. Don’t get it twisted.”

Should NRL players be taking part in Koori Knockout?

As many have pointed out, the Koori Knockout is more about a cultural celebration than the results achieved on-field. The carnival takes place every October long weekend, and sees thousands of Aboriginal people from across NSW gather for a celebration of community, family and the ultimate rugby league competition.

Former NRL players Cliff Lyons and Dean Widders both head to the knockout every year. "It is the biggest cultural celebration and gathering that we have these days and I see it as a big ceremony for everyone," Widders told AAP last week. "We have family reunions, you catch up with friends and people you haven't seen for a long time."

Lyons added: "The Knockout brings the community together and it's like a bit of a reunion with your cousins and relatives that you don't see. It's about getting back to the old ways. It's also just giving back to the mob and, obviously, without the NRL and NRLW players going back to that league they wouldn't be able to play with their cousins and relatives and friends."

with AAP

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