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NRL: Gagai keen to don Knights’ special Indigenous Jersey


After witnessing the official Indigenous Round at the weekend, Dane Gagai can’t wait for the Newcastle Knights to play their part on Friday night.

The NRL turned on another big extravaganza to celebrate the game’s Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander players while highlighting significant social issues within those communities.

Some eye-catching jerseys and traditional entertainment added to the overall atmosphere.

Unfortunately, the Hunter-based club received a bye, meaning its stars would have to wait a little longer to join the party.

However, Gagai was still impressed by what he saw.

“I actually watched a lot of it,” he admitted.

“It was pretty awesome to see my brother (Jacob) get a run at Souths and represent our family.

“That was a proud moment for myself to be able to see him do that… and get the win.

“I couldn’t be more happy for him.

“But, now, we’ve got a job to do and that’s going out this week against the Bulldogs.

“We owe them one.

“They came out and put on a performance against us last time.

“So, this is about not letting the people of Newcastle down and not letting the jumper down.”

The Knights will don their 2024 Indigenous Jersey when they tackle Canterbury at McDonald Jones Stadium on 31 May.

Designed by renowned Newcastle and Hunter creative Saretta Fielding, the artwork’s titled Powaikaliko Piriraal Malang, which means Grow Strong Together.

The concept showcases the story of the Knights’ family, reflecting a commitment to grow through connecting with communities and countries while bringing acknowledgement to the Awabakal, Worimi and Wonnarua peoples.

“I am very proud to have the opportunity to create a unique motif to represent our side,” Fielding said.

“It was a wonderful collaboration working with designs for both the team jersey and training tee.

“I totally enjoyed creating unique narratives that shared the Knights story of growing strong together, as a family connecting communities through the game and creating opportunities for our youth.”

Newcastle will also stage a special Welcome to Country and Indigenous performances throughout the night.

And, Gagai’s as keen as mustard to wear the playing strip.

“It’s always good to represent your culture,” he said.

“But, not just mine; I’m talking about the Newcastle community and all the people who are from here and who are passionate about this time of the year.

“It isn’t just a round about playing a game of rugby league in colourful jerseys.

“It’s about acknowledging the traditional owners who were here before us and doing our best to represent them and respect their land.”

Gagai admitted the Knights would be wary of the Bulldogs.

“They’re going alright,” he said.

“They’ve recruited really well and, then, on the back of that, the players who were previously there have really stepped up.

“Canterbury is a strong, formidable footy side now… they don’t go away.

“They’re pretty aggressive with their line speed.

“However, like I always say, we can’t control what they bring.

“We can only control what we do in these four walls and out on that footy field.

“So, it’s just about preparing well and going after it.”

Despite the Sydney Roosters showing some interest in snaring Gagai, the representative centre said it was an easy decision to stay in the Hunter.

“To be honest, it was all based around my wife and kids,” he explained.

“It kind of came on pretty quick.

“But, my kids come before anything I do.

“Just the thought of pulling them out and taking them to Sydney didn’t sit well with me.

“They’re both in school now and I’ve got another little one who’s nine months old.

“I just thought this is where we want to be.”

Newcastle Knights v Canterbury Bulldogs

  • When: Friday 31 May
  • Where: McDonald Jones Stadium
  • Time: 8pm
  • Newcastle Knights: 1. David Armstrong, 2. Enari Tuala, 3. Dane Gagai, 4. Krystian Mapapalangi, 5. Greg Marzhew, 6. Jack Cogger, 7. Jackson Hastings, 8. Jacob Saifiti, 9. Jayden Brailey (c), 10. Leo Thompson, 11. Kai Pearce-Paul, 12. Dylan Lucas, 13. Adam Elliott; interchange: 14. Phoenix Crossland, 15. Tyson Frizell (c), 16. Daniel Saifiti, 17. Brodie Jones; extended bench: 18. Tom Cant, 19. Mat Croker, 20. Will Pryce, 21. Jack Hetherington, 22. Fletcher Sharpe

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