Leading the Wulwaay: Pietsch inspired to enhance First Nations Rugby representation

Sat, Jun 22, 2024, 2:34 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson

In the space of 48 hours, Dylan Pietsch may be watching both of his passions come to life on an international stage.

Pietsch was named as part of Joe Schmidt's 38-player squad for the July series against Wales and Georgia, one of three Waratahs selected.

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The Olympian was selected by Eddie Jones last year as a utility and was reportedly slated to replace Max Jorgensen at the World Cup before a change of mind.

Despite the disappointing season for the Waratahs, Pietsch was a standout in the sky blue jersey as he returned from his first taste of the national set-up full of confidence.

"...It was really good to get that experience in the squad last year learning off Quade (Cooper) and Marika (Koroibete). I feel like last year I probably wasn't ready so I feel like I've grown a lot from that," he told reporters.

The Wiradjuri man lights up when he speaks about his heritage, with his arm covered with the totems of his land as well as the Olympic rings.

The tattoos are designed by Pietsch himself, who started Wulwaay three years ago to further his connection with his culture.

"I started Wulwway three years ago… I love to design my own tattoos and do a lot of paintings in my spare time," he explained.

"It's good to get away from Rugby and connect to culture when I can't really do that and go out bush with our hectic schedule so it's good to sit at home, put a bit of country music on and paint away.

Pietsch has designed several teammates' boots along with the NSW Waratahs Indigenous Jersey.

Most recently, the Waratah created the design for the Australia U20s jersey they wore at the Rugby Championship and will wear at next month's Junior World Championships.

It will be permanently adopted into the team's kit with the winger admitting it would be an honour to do the same thing for the Wallabies.

"(The 20s Jersey) look really cool, it's a nice subtle design," he admits. "(Coach) Nathan Grey was a real driver and he wanted to get a design in the jersey and make it permanent which I think is really cool and better than a one-off design.

"It would be a dream to get the Wallabies jersey and then design a jersey in the future. Hopefully it becomes a thing where different designs and artists come in and creat different jerseys to really connect back to community."

Yuin man and Brumbies centre Jarrah McLeod in the Dylan Pietsch-designed Australia U20s jersey. Photo: Getty Images
Yuin man and Brumbies centre Jarrah McLeod in the Dylan Pietsch-designed Australia U20s jersey. Photo: Getty Images

The Australia U20s will take the field in the early hours of July 5 against Italy in their second pool game, 36 hours before Pietsch could become the 15th First Nations Wallaby.

It reflects the push for further First Nations representation, with Kurtley Beale also picked in the squad whilst Brumby and U20s centre Jarrah McLeod is involved in the Calleo-supported Royals First Nations Opportunity Program in Canberra.

"...I want to create change within the sport in that area. We have a very strong connection to culture and I think we can really drive that and change a fair bit that has gone on and create further Wallabies," he said

"...Even just playing in my jersey for the Waratahs is one of the best things in my career. It just creates a dynamic where you know the whole story behind it and you know how much time gets put into it and what it actually means.

"To see (the Australia U20s) run out in that and they know the story and to have Jarrah (McLeod) in there as well donning that jersey is pretty cool.

"It's special."

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