The NRL will join hundreds of thousands of revellers in Sydney on Saturday night in celebrating the 40th Mardi Gras Festival.

Past and present players, including Joel Thompson, Kezie Apps, Ian Roberts, Wendell Sailor, Dene Halatau and Paul Langmack, will join a host of staff from across the game taking part in the parade – which is set to be the biggest ever Mardi Gras.

NRL Wellbeing and Education Manager, Paul Heptonstall confirmed this would be the fourth year that the NRL, in partnership with NSWRL, would be part of the Mardi Gras.

“One of the core beliefs of our game is inclusiveness and it’s fantastic that rugby league will once again have a presence as part of Mardi Gras celebrations,” Mr Heptonstall said.

“This is a momentous event for so many people across communities and I, along with many players and staff can’t wait to show our commitment in supporting one another and celebrating the occasion with our very own Pride In League float.” 

The NRL’s Pride In League float will be one of more than 200 floats and groups involved in the parade and will feature an artificial turf field, goalposts bathed in rainbow colours and carrying the tagline ‘Pride in League’, with a Respect hashtag.

In 2014, the game implemented a number of inclusion frameworks, in addition to ongoing workshops and education delivered to clubs by the NRL Wellbeing and Education team.

The NRL also participates in the Pride in Sport (PIS) Index; a benchmarking instrument designed to measure, comment on and make recommendations in relation to the creation of inclusive and equitable environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) players, supporters and participants within participating Australian sporting codes and sporting clubs.

The PIS Index was developed by the Pride In Sport Advisory Group, established in 2015 and consists of various peak sport bodies, including the NRL.