It is fitting that as the Intrust Super Cup celebrates Indigenous Round this week that the club that services the greatest area encompassing Indigenous communities will debut 20-year-old Shawn Bowen from the Mossman Sharks.
Cousin of former and current Cowboys stars Matt and Javid Bowen, Shawn is the product of the portability program that former Pride coach Joe O'Callaghan instituted last year in order to assist young players from regional outposts to transition into the Pride's Intrust Super Cup set-up.
Last year Shawn travelled the hour each way from Mossman to Cairns to train once a week with the Pride, a commitment that has doubled this year after he joined the squad in pre-season and edged closer to an Intrust Super Cup call-up.
That call-up has finally come and with an injury ruling Javid out Shawn will start on the wing for the Pride this Sunday against the Cutters and be featured throughout Queensland in the Channel Nine match of the round.
Ty Williams was a 21-year-old try-scoring phenomenon from Innisfail when he was recruited to play for the North Queensland Cowboys and having worked in a development role in the region for a number of years is now head coach of a Pride team that he estimates consists of 60 per cent Indigenous players.
He knows the impact the club and its players have on the rugby league-mad communities stretching from Cairns up to the Torres Strait and is excited to see Shawn join the Intrust Super Cup ranks this weekend.
The Pride will wear a special Indigenous Round jersey designed by Kuranda artist Brianna Enoch this weekend and with Yarrabah transferring their home games in three grades to Barlow Park on Sunday it will be a fitting occasion for Shawn to make his first appearance for the Pride.
"There are a few players who have come through the system and now play for the Pride who are well respected in their communities and Shawn Bowen who we are debuting this weekend is the perfect example," Williams said.
"He's from Mossman, a remote community north of Cairns so it's a good chance for him to get out there and represent his culture and his family.
"Mossman is a very highly-populated Indigenous community and he comes out of there and this week gets to wear the Indigenous jersey which is pretty cool.
"Shawny has been on the radar for the past month and with Javid out this week with a bit of a shoulder niggle and the fact that we haven't won as many games as we would have liked this season we need to get the youth and enthusiasm in there and give them a chance."
Along with the Pride and Cutters, Ipswich, Souths Logan, Townsville and Central Queensland will wear Indigenous Round jerseys with each game to recognise the significant milestones in Indigenous history such as the 50-year anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, 25-year anniversary of the Mabo Judgement, 20-year anniversary of the Torres Strait Islander flag and 20-year anniversary of the 1997 Bringing them home report.
Given the contribution that Indigenous players, coaches and officials have made at all levels of the game throughout Queensland it is a recognition that the Queensland Rugby League are proud to make each year.
The weekend also coincides with the 10-year anniversary of the Pride with a big gala dinner on Friday night and a massive crowd expected on Sunday to watch four highly entertaining games of footy.
Did you know?
The Pride may have a good record against the Cutters but they are meeting a Mackay team coming off the biggest win in the club's history. The Cutters' 52-4 win over Norths last weekend was not only their biggest ever win but also their largest ever score with Nicho Hynes, Cooper Bambling, Johnny Faletagoa'I and Jordan Pereira all scoring doubles. In Round 1 the Pride had a 24-4 win over Mackay, their fourth win on the trot against their North Queensland rivals.
A former editor of Big League, Tony Webeck is the Chief Queensland Correspondent for NRL.com.
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