A swathe of the NRL's top Indigenous players turned out at the 49th annual NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout across the long weekend.
Josh Addo-Carr, Jesse Ramien, Cody Walker, Josh Hoffman, Andrew Fifita, Greg Inglis, Brent Naden, Ash Taylor and Will Smith were among those to feature in the four-day event at the Central Coast Regional Sporting Complex.
Joel Thompson and Braidon Burns also made appearances but didn’t play due to injury. More than 140 teams participated in the tournament in various age groups.
The South Coast Black Cockatoos team prevailed 40-12 against Fifita's formidable Griffith Three Ways United in the men's grand final on Monday afternoon.
The victory was especially significant given the Black Cockatoos – whose name means Nowra – were competing in honour of a late mate.
After their brother James passed away last year, Ben and Mel Wellington resolved to make his long-time vision of a South Coast Koori Knockout side a reality using concepts he had written in a diary.
"Pretty much everything that we're wearing to represent our families is what he came up with," said Black Cockatoos captain Ben Wellington, who won his first Koori Knockout for the Nambucca Valley Rams alongside James 21 years ago.
"We've just grabbed it from the book and made it into real life. We had to do all this in pretty much three months.
"James was a protector, he always looked out for people. He'd give the shirt off his back. So that's why we've got a good turnout from all the players; they want to play for him.
"I even had to knock back players. It shows how many people he's touched."
A picture of James drawn by tattoo artist Keith Penno – a young man whose life James changed - adorned the left sleeve of South Coast's jerseys.
The likes of former NRL players Craig Garvey, Dylan Farrell and St George Illawarra young gun Jayden Sullivan played for the Black Cockatoos, who will host next year's competition in the Shoalhaven area.
Cronulla Sharks prop Fifita said he was grateful to "give back to the people and the culture" while enjoying the game.
"There's no stress. Footy's work for me, it's always been a business ever since the first year I played [NRL]," Fifita said.
"Now I can kind of take that hat off and just play with my brothers. That's the best thing about it.
"It's one of those weekends I'd never give up. I've played before World Cups, before playing for Australia. It means the world to me and to the people."
In the women's division, the Wellington Wedgetails edged Bellbrook Dunghutti Connections 6-4 in a tense decider, with Jillaroos representatives Simone Smith, Nakia Davis-Welsh and former Roosters NRLW player Kandy Kennedy gallant in defeat.
Rising Penrith Panthers centre Naden stuck around on day four to watch his sister Britt play for Wellington.
"She supports me so it's the least I can do," Naden said. "She's playing some good football. I watched her over the last couple of days.
"It's good to come back and see mob that you haven’t seen for years. You ask anyone, this is the modern-day corroboree."
Elsewhere, South Taree clinched the under-15s boys title, Kempsey took out the under-17s boys while La Perouse reigned supreme in the under-16s women's and under-12s boys.