Maroons launch new Indigenous jersey

Maroons launch new Indigenous jersey

Queensland players will honour the state's rich Indigenous history by wearing a specially designed training jersey for the first time during this year's Holden State of Origin Series.

Some of the Maroons' biggest names, including Greg Inglis, Dane Gagai and Will Chambers, joined hundreds of fans in the Queen Street Mall today to officially launch the new jersey.

Players and coaching staff will wear the Indigenous jumper for the first time during Sunday's field session on the Gold Coast.

And fans will be able to get into the spirit as well, with the jersey now available for purchase from maroonsshop.com and rebel.

Maroons coach Kevin Walters said the initiative was a fitting way to celebrate Queensland's strong ties to the Indigenous community.

He paid tribute to the late Arthur Beetson, who famously led the Maroons to a stunning victory in the first State of Origin match in 1980.

"I was lucky enough to be inside Lang Park and I'll never forget the roar the crowd made when Arthur ran on the field," Walters said.

"Arthur was a tremendous leader and his legacy continues to inspire so many of us."

Beetson was also the first Indigenous Australian to captain his country in a major sport, an achievement not lost on the game's modern-day stars.

Newly-appointed Maroons skipper Greg Inglis said it will be a massive honour to wear the jersey this weekend.

"I think it's a great initiative and I've already received some excellent feedback from the boys," Inglis said.

"Queenslanders have always embraced the Indigenous and Torres Strait Island heritage and to wear this jersey for the first time will be a huge thrill."

The designs for the training jersey were provided by renowned artists Jyi Lawton and Ronald Henry-Monaei.

• About Jyi Lawton

Jyi Lawton is a proud descendant of the Bidjara people of Central Queensland with a passion in creating a culture of innovation through art. He uses art to take people on a journey to educate and instil cultural knowledge, wisdom and principles into action, through an Aboriginal worldview.

Jyi is an award-winning contemporary, Aboriginal visual artist, using predominantly mixed media on canvas as a medium of storytelling; just as his ancestors have done before him through an oral history of hundreds of generations.

His works have featured in many public exhibitions, and he has worked alongside a range of clients including local Aboriginal community, students and young people, government, not-for-profit agencies, and leading international law firms.

Artwork:

Respect: For First Nations people of this country our ontology, our reason for existence is based on respect; respect for our Mother Earth, the country we stand on and respect for the people on it. A spiritual connection and relationship; one where the land doesn't exist without the people, nor the people without the land. A premise to which our cultural values and beliefs are built on.

Likewise, for the mighty Maroons. A concept too built on respect. Starting with the great Artie Beetson instilling respect; respect for the game of rugby league. Though this concept came something great; a spiritual connection too between the people of Queensland and the sacred Maroon jersey.

Strength, Resilience, Connection and Community: In today's context, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the living breathing underdog. The odds stacked against us in terms of; life expectancy, mortality rates, education, incarceration etc. We have a long way to go, yet we are here, thriving and succeeding.

The Maroons alike, inheriting the underdog status based on external doubt at the outset, not expected to compete as a state against the juggernaut of NSW rugby league. Once fielding the 'youngest' and most 'inexperienced' team in the history of Origin, not destined for success, yet here we are as Queenslanders in the game.

Emotional Element – Spiritual Connection: The emotional element of the artwork (inspired by Indigenous players who have played rugby league at the highest level) represents the feelings and emotions drawn from the spiritual connection. From the adrenalin and connection of stomping the sacred ground in ceremony, the sense of pride and passion. To the adrenalin in running out in front of tens of thousands of people in the Maroons jersey. Not only representing your teammates but your state, your family, your culture, your community. Adrenaline pumping through your veins, the pride and passion.

• About Ronald Henry-Monaei

Ronald Henry-Monaei is a descendant of the Komet tribe Mer Island and a descendant of the Kaurareg nation of Northern Peninsular Area and Torres Strait Islands of Horn Island, Thursday Island, Prince of Wales Island and Hammond Island. Ronald represents young up and coming leaders in our community who use art as the vehicle to express identity, culture and history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from the region.

Ronald's visual designs are explicitly unique to this region, a representation of Kaurareg people's connection to country and the only region that merge Aboriginal and Torres Strait cultures into one. His art and storytelling represents adaptations of his ancestor's oral storylines created by totems inherited through generations.

As a young leader and role model, Ronald is conscious of the gift that he has been given and channels his energy into his art, the design than becomes an instrument of discussion, education and opportunity to embrace cultural understanding.

Artwork:

Culture: The warup (drum) is a symbol of dominance, when struck at the core resinate a deep baritone sound that demands respect, and sends imposing alarms to threatening neighbours to adhere and succumb to our lore's, when passing through our ancestral waters.

Such is the case with the mighty Maroons team, a team that prides itself on the culture and spirit of the jersey worn, of players past and present and to the men who wear our jersey with no fear into battle.

Identity: The Dhari (headdress) placed upon the octopus head signifies our ancestral connection to our totems that shaped our storylines; and the warriors that protect our land and seas. The octopus has eight tentacles representing the eight-clan groups of Mer Island in the Torres Strait Region. Such is the case with the mighty Maroons identity of modern day warriors protecting the history of our culture through the strengths of men who later become immortals of our game.

History: The cray fish and pearl shell represents our industry, a time when adverse challenges to our survival as a nation of people was dependant on seasonal tides. This industry was only for our strongest men to be strong in body, mind and spirit, and to go that extra mile and do what is necessary for your family and community.

Such is the case with our mighty Maroons team, that breeds a history of culture and identity embedded in the new and weathered players of our team. A history of never give up attitude that carries through generations to come.

Connection: The symbols in the drawings represent our life cycle from creation to current date. The circles within a circle represent our people, how they have evolved from creation to now with the larger circle beneath the warriors eyes to be the inclusion of Christianity to the people of the Torres Strait region. The stingrays between the circles represent the adverse challenges our ancestors made to ensure the survival of our people remained intact. Our connection to land and sea is only complete when all the circles aligned and for our culture, identity and history to remain intact for generations to come.

Such is the case with our mighty Maroons team, a team made up of many nations, but share the same heartbeat of Queensland pride, it is a journey that creates a new chapter each year. To those who are blessed to wear the jersey, also bring and carry within them the people and community they represent.