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'Special week': Sharks honour Indigenous Round

The Sharks will celebrate Indigenous Round with a host of initiatives including free health checks and appearances from club greats Preston Campbell and David Peachey this week.

Wearing a sleek Indigenous strip designed by renowned Aboriginal artist Jordan Ardler in Saturday's blockbuster game against the Panthers at PointsBet Stadium, the Sharks will mark the important occasion on the field and in the community.

Ardler will speak to the NRL squad on Thursday morning to share the significance behind the jersey, which features stingrays and captures the cultural knowledge and stories of the traditional owners of the Cronulla region.

With the support of Deadly Choices and the Vitalis Family Medical Practice, First Nations people are invited to access free '715' health checks at the stadium on Friday. A plethora of local students and community members are expected to attend.

The Na Joomelah program, run by the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council, will be also be providing evidenced-based anti-smoking resources.

Indigenous icon Campbell will be on hand at the event and the NRL team's captain's run training session to showcase his cultural connection, with fellow Aboriginal Sharks legend Peachey to lead the side out of the tunnel at the game.

The Sharks NRL squad features five Indigenous players – Nicho Hynes, Will Kennedy, Jesse Ramien, Braydon Trindall and Niwhai Puru. Ramien and Kennedy spoke passionately about Indigenous Round earlier this week.

"It's a special week for our culture," proud Wiradjuri man Ramien said.

"Just to acknowledge everything that our people have done and continue to do, whether that be in sport or other parts of life as well. It's a massive week, not only for myself but for my family and my community as well.

"Being a young Indigenous boy from a small country town in NSW (Coonamble), I think I've got my community behind me as well. I'm looking forward to it.

"It's massive. With the role models, it just gives (kids) a bit of inspiration that no matter where you're from – whether it be from a small community like that or in the big smoke – you can accomplish anything if you set your mind to it.

"I remember being a young kid out there and looking up to the likes of (Johnathan) Thurston and (Greg) Inglis. Now to be in that position myself, it's a real honour."

Kennedy, a proud Kamilaroi man who once lived at Sylvania's Kirinari Aboriginal Hostel, added: "It's very important. I think all of us players have started there as kids; we've looked up to all the Indigenous boys as well when we were growing up.

"A lot of my favourite players were Indigenous," he continued, shouting out Campbell, his father William 'Bubba' Kennedy, Rhys Wesser and Peachey.

Game day will include a cultural gift exchange between the teams at the coin toss, followed by a dance performance and smoking ceremony by Djurawalinjang Dancers. As Peachey assumes the role of Indigenous tribe leader by guiding the Sharks onto the field, juniors from the Darkinjung Many Waters and Blacktown Redbelly Warriors teams will walk with each player to form a boomerang shape.

Aunty Dolly Brown, a proud Yuin-Dunghutti woman and Dharawal First Nations leader, will provide a Welcome to Country before kick-off.

Darkinjung Many Waters, Blacktown Redbelly Warriors and Sharks Indigenous programs participants will play half-time games presented by Deadly Choices.

Hynes and Kennedy had boots painted by esteemed Indigenous artist Daren Dunn, who presented his designs to the players at training on Tuesday.

CLICK HERE to shop the 2024 Sharks Indigenous range.

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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