Waratahs' indigenous strip a strong symbol for reconciliation: Beale

Super Rugby
by Iain Payten

An indigenous designed Waratahs jersey that represents 15 players all linked together is a powerful symbol of reconciliation, according to NSW star Kurtley Beale.

The Waratahs will wear the specially-created jersey in their clash against the Jaguares at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night, and just as he was for the Wallabies’ indigenous jersey, Beale said he’ll be extremely proud to pull it on.

The jersey was designed by Dylan Barnes, a young artist recommended to NSW Rugby by the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME).

“There’s fifteen of these small circles that resemble the players on the field and the lines in between, linking them all together as one to tie in with Reconciliation Week which is a big part of our history,” Beale explained.

“It’s another great opportunity to do that on the weekend, bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous players to celebrate a special week and take us in the direction we all want to go.”

Beale was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Wallabies’ indigenous jersey, which was worn first in 2017.

The pain of being suspended for a Test against England last year was felt even more keenly for Beale given the team wore it again at Twickenham.

"It’s a very special occasion for myself and Cody (Walker), obviously being the only indigenous guys in the Waratahs team at the moment," Beale said.

"it’s going to be a great occasion to be able to hopefully get a nice crowd out to celebrate such a special game to both of us.

"Being a proud indigenous man, for NSW and the Waratahs to be able to recognize and acknowledge our culture is extremely powerful and hopefully we can continue this."

Walker, a Bundjalung man who hails from Yamba, is a prop in the wider Waratahs squad and said he was immensely proud to launch the jersey alongside Beale, who he long regarded as an indigenous role model.

“I am very proud and very honoured," Walker said.

“We are one of the oldest living cultures, you can’t explain it. Your chest gets big when you put on this jersey.”

Beale and Walker were joined at Bankwest Stadium by pupils from the new Ropes Crossing Public School, who have named one of their four houses after Beale.

The others are Jessica Fox, Paige Hadley and Usman Khawaja.

“It’s a huge honour to be able to have a sporting house named after you,” Beale said.

“Hopefully I can inspire these young kids to be whatever they want one day.”