• The Parramatta Eels will be wearing Darren Dunn's design during the NRL's Indigenous round. (Darren Dunn)Source: Darren Dunn
Indigenous pride will be front and centre for the Parramatta Eels, West Tigers, Gold Coast Titans and Melbourne Storm this weekend.
Hannah Hollis

12 May 2016 - 5:41 PM  UPDATED 12 May 2016 - 5:43 PM

With 12 percent of the NRL made up by Indigenous people, the Indigenous Round is a time to celebrate the contribution players have made to the competition.  

Thursday's game between the Canberra Raiders and the St George Illawarra Dragons will kick off the weekend of celebrations.

The Parramatta Eels, West Tigers, Gold Coast Titans and Melbourne Storm will take to the field in their jerseys.

Other clubs - the North Queensland Cowboys, South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Dragons - will wait until next weekend to wear theirs.

Each club's jersey is full of symbolism and tradition. See who designed your team’s jersey and the meaning behind the artwork. 

Parramatta Eels: Artist, Darren Dunn

This jersey celebrates and pays respect to the traditional owners of Parramatta and their deep and rich ancient heritage.

The area of Parramatta was known by the Darug people as Burramatta ("Burra" meaning eel and "matta" meaning creek).

The side panels of the jersey represent a welcome dance by the local Aboriginal people to celebrate and acknowledge the Indigenous Round with all of Australia's cultural groups. It's called the "Shake A Leg Dance," according to artist Darren Dunn and celebrates "our Cultures as one."

The back of the jersey represents significant ceremonial sites and meeting places within 'Burramatta' especially those most sacred sites on the eastern side near Duck River, Homebush Bay and Parramatta Park.

The front of the jersey celebrates and acknowledges the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women of today, the past and the future.

"We pay respect to our women in our families and communities who lead and support us every day," say Dunn.

"The 'Eel Dreaming' is an important part of our Aboriginal culture in this region, and is our connection to our Aboriginal ancestors who look over us and the land every day," says Dunn.

This is the ancestral spirit of the Parramatta jersey.

West Tigers: Artist, Dennis Golding


Speaking to the Tigers media team earlier in the year, artist Dennis Golding says the design reflects two different groups meeting together and uniting as one.

"What I've designed is the two teams - and you can also see two communities - and they come here into the centre area, where they can meet and support one another," he told WestTigers.com

“It's a quite popular symbol that a lot of artists use for meeting place. That's what I've tried to put in there - that this is the meeting place where two teams combine and unite as one,” he added.

Gold Coast Titans: Artist, Christine Slabb

Appearing on League Nation Live on Tuesday the North Queensland artist said her designs are inspired by a painting she did last year.

“It’s about all people coming together to one central place. The oceans of the Gold Coast the aqua just happen to be like the Titan’s colours, and the outside is all friends and family coming together,” she said.

Indigenous All Stars founder and former NRL star Preston Campbell has designed these pair of boots to be worn by Titans player Ryan James.

Six other players will also take to the field wearing Indigenous painted boots that will be auctioned off after the round.

North Queensland Cowboys: Artist, Sharon Phineasa

Sharon Phineasa draws inspiration for her work from the Kulba Adithil (old stories) of myths and legends passed down through generations of tribal elders.

In describing the inspiration for her designs – which reflect strongly on the Cowboys’ battle for success in the NRL - she told the Cowboys: “Warriors would evoke the strength of their ancestors to give them power over their adversaries and ensure victory. Once endowed with this spiritual strength, warriors became invincible. The adornment of ceremonial war paint and markings was to strike fear in their rivals. The markings were also acknowledgement of their clans and totems that set them apart in battle.”

The Dragons and the Rabbitohs won’t wear their jersey until next week, when they play each other at ANZ Stadium. 

The Dragons media manager saying they wish to extend the celebrations beyond this week, and wear their strip alongside the Rabbitohs.

“The unique design of the jersey will have a special relevance as both teams will take the field in their respective individually designed strips to celebrate the Indigenous culture within our communities,”he told NITV.

Melbourne Storm: Artist, Lenny Briggs and Dixon Patten

The logo in the middle of the jersey represents Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club. The outer circles are the broader Indigenous communities that Melbourne Storm are reaching through its various programs. The white lines represent each individuals pathway while the four colours represent the four seasons, representing diversity and change.

The Yarra River flows past AAMI Park, home of the Storm, the ‘Birrarung’ has been a meeting point and lifeline for local Aboriginal people for a millennia.

Water- representing life as it flows through the ‘Melbourne Storm Community’ becomes much larger, which portrays the quality of life improving.