Dual code international Andrew Walker says an Indigenous Test jersey and an official Indigenous round of Super Rugby would go a long way to bringing more Indigenous players into rugby.
Kurtley Beale, the only current Indigenous Wallabies player, said earlier this year that it’s a move he would welcome and Walker said it would be a win-win for the Wallabies and Indigenous players and supporters.
“I would love a jumper like that,” he said.
“Because it's not only representing Australia, it's representing the whole of Australia.
“I think we're going to get a little bit more respect from Indigenous players, people (if we do that).
“To have that designed jumper in the Wallabies, all indigenous supporters would go and buy one.”
The Reds donned an Indigenous jumper on Friday night against the Chiefs and the Rebels have made similar moves in the past, while the Waratahs will be wearing an Indigenous warm up t-shirt ahead of their clash with the Hurricanes.
However, there is no official conference-wide Indigenous round, as there is in the AFL and NRL, both of which boast a high Indigenous representation.
“Everyone should take a leaf out of the Aussie Rules, they've got programs in order and they've got a lot of people that's kicking goals,” Walker said.
“Rugby union is our game.”
Walker is helping coach this year’s Lloyd McDermott development team, an Indigenous side that features in the National Schools Championships, of which Beale was a graduate and said it was an initiative that needed to grow.
“After Kurtley and the Fainga'a brothers, who's to come? Who's next to come in line?,” he said.
“I think it needs to be a little bit more structured with the programs.”
“It's just the professionalism, they've got to get into it, day in, day out.
“There's a couple of kids in there that they really want it, you can see it.”
Walker said he hoped he could pass on some of the lessons he had learned through his career in rugby and rugby league when mentoring the ‘Lloydies’ this week.
“Back in my day there was no one looking after me. I wish I had the support that they got now,” he said.
“It wasn't an easy road (for me).
“Now they've got it a whole lot simpler.
“Now they've got all the support in the world, it's just what they want to do and find out where their identity is I suppose and what they want in life.”
That identity and family focus is what Walker said was point of difference in the Lloydies program.
“Knowing your culture and knowing where you come from..., it just makes it better understanding of each other, of knowing where we come from and an identifying who we are.
“This year with the Lloydies it's been fantastic because it's bringing culture out, it's bringing rugby, life skills after footy and I think it's a great concept.”