As a proud Indigenous Australian and four-time Indigenous All Star, Sharks fullback Ben Barba is happy to see his Cronulla club do their bit for the RECOGNISE movement ahead of their clash against North Queensland in this weekend's NRL Indigenous Round.
The RECOGNISE movement looks to achieve two goals: To recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution; and, to rid of racial discrimination in the national 'rule book'.
With the difficult task of trying to gain a national majority as well as majorities in a majority of the states when amending the Constitution, the RECOGNISE movement is looking to rid of the outdated notions that still exist within. One section of the document, for example, still allows states to ban whole races of people from voting.
To help show their support, the Sharks will have 'R' for RECOGNISE on the sternum of their jersey, with sponsor Bluestone Property Solutions giving up its jersey placement for this weekend's game.
"It's obviously about getting the awareness out there about what's going on. One thing that has been brought up is getting racism out and recognition in so we're all strong people and this is a big step towards where we want to go," Barba said.
"If there's any way we can help by getting it out there and educating Australia we'll put our hand up and keep doing it as best as possible. It's a great step this weekend and hopefully we can only keep working forward from here."
Timely enough, with the announcement of the 2016 NRL All Stars match scheduled for Thursday, Barba went on to add what the pre-season fixture means to him and its importance on the rugby league calendar.
"It's up there with some of the big games. The fans really enjoy it, we as players definitely enjoy it. When we go into camp we come together as one, and play the game as one," Barba said.
"If you talk to 'Gal' [Sharks captain Paul Gallen] who is someone on the opposite team, he definitely enjoys the week because he gets the opportunity to play with others he might not usually in the non-Indigenous side.
"For me, it's a chance to play with some of the guys who will go down as some of the greats in 'G.I.' [Greg Inglis] and Johnathan Thurston."
Speaking of Thurston, Barba is looking forward to playing against his Indigenous All Star teammate for the first time in Cronulla colours.
With the Sharks already accounting for a Thurston-less North Queensland back in Round 16, Barba said with his club winning seven of their past eight games it has given the fifth-placed club belief to keep remaining successful.
"We know we have a capable side here of winning some big games. At the moment we're not talking semi finals, we still have to win a few more games to definitely cement our spot in the eight and we have some hard games coming up," Barba said.
"We just believe in ourselves and our coach and what we're doing here and I think that's what's getting us home in the end. Hopefully we can get another one on the weekend and aim for that top four."
To learn more about Recognise - CLICK HERE
NOTE: This article first featured on NRL.com.au. CLICK HERE to see the original article.