“I never heard from Nicky after what I did, but I did speak to a close friend of his and we had actually planned to get together,” Addo-Carr said. “We were going to have coffee and a yarn, but then COVID hit.
“I still want to hear what his life was like growing up. I know how much tougher he did it back in the day.
“I’d ask him about the challenges he went through and, of course, what he was thinking when he pointed to his skin [that day].
“When I did what I did, I wanted to show people I was proud to be black. We still cop racism. But people are learning.”
Laurie Daley had just taken a seat in the coach’s box for the Indigenous All Stars game and had no idea what the “Fox” was about to do.
“I’m not even sure if he had discussed it with anybody beforehand. But I knew straight away what it was,” Daley said. “I thought it was terrific. He made a statement and showed everybody how proud he was [to be Indigenous].”
For all his years of experience, even Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy says he learns something new every year about the plight of Indigenous people, and mainly because of Addo-Carr’s knowledge and passion for his people.
“To have someone like Josh who is so heavily invested in this round makes it even better,” Bellamy said. “I know his [late] grandfather Wally [Carr] was his greatest influence. He represented everything Josh stood for and believed in.
“I remember we got Wally down one year to Geelong for one of our pre-season camps. He was meant to stay a few hours and ended up being with us four days because he loved the boys so much.”
Addo-Carr loved watching his good mates over at Souths kick-start Indigenous Round in style. The Rabbitohs’ 32 points were all scored by Indigenous trio Latrell Mitchell, Alex Johnston and Cody Walker as they came from behind to beat the Dragons.
Addo-Carr is proud to wear the Storm’s special Indigenous jersey on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday afternoon when they take on Newcastle.
The laid-back flyer did not want this story to be negative. A similar request has been made by every Indigenous star when telling their stories this week.
Yes, Addo-Carr is well aware racism still exists – there are the trolls on social media; there was also a security guard who followed Addo-Carr while shopping for nappies in a country department store not so long ago – but things are improving.
“People think it’s just another round, but for us it’s special and a little acknowledgement of the first people in this country,” Addo-Carr said. “I love this round because we’re respecting the Aboriginal players who have given so much to the NRL.
“GI [Greg Inglis] is one of the best players to have played the game. Johnathan Thurston, Arthur Beetson … if it wasn’t for Arthur, Origin wouldn’t be Origin.
“The people who have come to this country, it’s their home now. We understand that and respect that. We just want everyone to know it was and always will be Aboriginal land, and everyone is welcome.
“That’s the message we want. It’s not about being here first; it’s about knowing the history of this country. It’s as simple as that.”
Addo-Carr is one of 13 kids and grew up in Redfern. His mother, Melissa Carr, is a Wiradjuri woman from central NSW, while his dad, Joey Addo, hails from Cairns and the Gunggandji mob.
When Dean Widders told the Herald this week the Rabbitohs were always seen as the “beacon of light” when it came to Indigenous league fans and even rival players, Addo-Carr completely understood.
He would fit right into the Souths back line. They don’t have the money for the flyer next year. Wouldn’t the Wests Tigers fans love him back?
Addo-Carr says of a potential return to Sydney in 2021: “I’m still deciding at the moment. I don’t want it to distract my footy. I’m weighing up things. I’m still trying to get a release from my manager.”
But this isn’t a story about Addo-Carr’s contract situation. It isn’t even about whether the Storm can beat the Knights. It’s what matters most to Addo-Carr.
“We just want the right things for our people,” he said. “There are good and bad people in every culture.
“Sport is our identity. Rugby league is our identity. It’s our escape. We are extremely grateful the NRL knows that and respects that. We’re all extremely blessed.”
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.