Walker keen to finally get own Indigenous All Stars jersey

After buying an Indigenous All Stars jersey when the concept was introduced in 2010, it is fitting that South Sydney five-eighth Cody Walker was chosen to help launch the 2019 version that will be worn in the clash with Aoteroa Maori at AAMI Park next February.

"I don't want to take it off," Walker said on Wednesday. "I remember the first All Stars game on the Gold Coast. I was living there at the time and my partner wanted a jersey for her birthday so it is going to be very exciting to hopefully pull the jersey on for the first time and have my family with me."

Walker joined Indigenous women's representative Caitlin Moran and Maori pair Elijah Taylor and Raecene McGregor to launch the jerseys for the February 15 double-header in Melbourne.

It will be the first time the Indigenous team has played the Maori since the curtain-raiser to the opening game of the 2008 World Cup at Allianz Stadium.

"I watched that game on TV and had shivers down my spine when the war cries were coming together," Walker said.

"It is certainly something I am looking forward to being a part of if I get picked."

Taylor, who played for an under 18s Maori team alongside the likes of Jesse Bromwich in 2007, also remembers that match.

"They got a good crowd and it was a good game as well. People loved seeing the war cries – the haka and the aboriginal war cry," the Wests Tigers forward said.

Caitlin Moran and Raecene McGregor.
Caitlin Moran and Raecene McGregor. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"That is a great spectacle and I hope people come to look at it."

Moran is hoping the All Stars game will coincide with her return from a knee reconstruction which ruled the Brisbane Broncos playmaker out of this year's inaugural NRL Women’s Premiership.

"It's my favourite game of all the games I have played, just with the culture and the passion behind playing with the mob so it would mean a lot if it was my first game back after a major injury that I had suffered and struggled with," Moran said.

"A lot of the support I have gained has been from my mob and my people so to be able to give back to them would be major."

McGregor, the St George Illawarra halfback, was born and raised in Australia but she said it would be an honour to represent her Maori heritage.

"It means a lot, not just for me but for my family as well so it is a real honour," McGregor said. "It is really exciting because there is so much culture in both teams so it will be really good game."

Each of the four All Stars jerseys have been designed by artists from local Aboriginal and Maori communities in Australia and New Zealand.

The men's Indigenous jersey was designed by Laura Pitt and features a goanna, a totem of the Gomeroi people. The women's jersey – designed by Elenore Binge, also of the Gomeroi people – features a woman representing Mother Earth, protector of the land and sea.

The launch of the 2019 All Stars.
The launch of the 2019 All Stars. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"To feel connected to the jersey itself is a major thing and I know the girls are going to be stoked with the design," Moran said. "Everyone is going to love it so it is definitely going to sell out."  

The men's Maori jersey depicts a celebration of two rich cultures coming together as indigenous peoples of their respective lands, while the women's jersey depicts strong and independent women in modern society.

The 2019 Indigenous All Stars men's and women's jerseys are sponsored by the KARI Foundation, an Aboriginal-run organisation delivering programs and initiatives the build strength in Aboriginal community, families and services.

KARI chief executive, Casey Ralph, said it was clear than an incredible amount of time and effort had gone into the designs of all four jerseys and was proud to be a partner of the indigenous jerseys.

"KARI pride themselves on celebrating and growing awareness for the positive achievements of Indigenous Australia and there’s no doubt that achievement and a celebration of culture will be on display when the All Stars matches are played next year," she said.

 

The NRL Harvey Norman All-Stars matches will be played on Friday 15 February at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

 Tickets are on sale for the All-Stars double-header, with NRL club member adult tickets starting at $20 and family passes from $45. General sale tickets start at $25 for an adult and $50 for a family pass.

 To purchase tickets, head to www.nrl.com/tickets

For flights, accommodation, and tickets to visit Melbourne and attend the All-Stars matches, head to www.nrl.com/travel