You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
NRL Photos

Indigenous All Stars centre Amber Pilley was 11 when she found her Koori identity.

Her parents and grandparents tried to answer the questions she had about her family tree, but due to the inter-generational trauma they had endured it made it hard for them to open up about their culture.

Born in Campbelltown, the Brisbane Broncos representative moved to the Gold Coast at two years of age.

While her immediate family made the move also, the rest of her family continued to reside in Sydney's West.

A decade on and the 21-year-old is far more educated to tell the story.

"My mob is Wiradjuri in Mudgee, NSW," Pilley tells

"After the passing of my grandparents we did a bit more digging into our family tree and researched our history.

"We spoke to some elders within the community which helped us out a lot too.

"Our Aboriginality makes up who we are. It always has, regardless if we were enriched in our culture or not."

The women's Indigenous side, coached by Dean Widders, is set to field one of its most inexperienced line-ups in the All Stars game's history due to injuries and personal withdrawals.

Many of the players have been picked due to standout performances in the Koori Knockout and Murri Carnival from the 2018 season.

"We've got a young bunch in camp that are bringing a new drive and passion, and you can see how enthusiastic they are to be a part of this," Pilley said.

"It's amazing to see so many sisters coming through the grassroots pathways."

Indigenous All Stars centre Amber Pilley.
Indigenous All Stars centre Amber Pilley. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

Ahead of her third appearance for the Indigenous All Stars, the Broncos representative – nicknamed "Catwoman" for her nerd-like obsession with the famous comic-book character – is one of the more experienced players in the line-up.

She's now on a mission to help others in the squad, particularly those under the age of 18, help discover their own cultural identities.

"All Stars has allowed me to gain more understanding about my cultural identity, being around so many strong black women," Pilley said.

"What the All Stars experience has taught me is that ones skin colours does not determine who you are as an Indigenous person.

"It is important that we use this platform to empower and inspire the next generation of Indigenous girls so they feel comfortable in their own skin, no matter what shade they are."

Amber Pilley in action for Brisbane.
Amber Pilley in action for Brisbane. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Pilley said the women's side had benefited from the advantages of mingling with the men's team ahead of the double-header on Friday night.

"We (the men's and women's teams) were welcomed to country by elders in the community at the opening ceremony which was a special occasion for all of us," Pilley said.

"We also got the opportunity to listen on as Preston Campbell delivered the State of Mind program to us and get out into the community and make some meaningful connects with fans.

"Along they way they (the men) shared with us their experience of playing All Stars and the back story of their cultural dance.

"What has been most empowering is seeing so many strong Indigenous people in the same space and having this opportunity to connect back to our roots, with our brothers and sisters by our sides."

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Platinum Partners

View All Partners