FOR the first time in their 51-year club history, the Shoalhaven Rugby Club will hold an Indigenous round, to recognise their close ties to the Indigenous community.
The club will wear special jerseys, designed by Scott Webb, in their matches at Rugby Park on Saturday, August 17.
One of the brains behind the inaugural event is Shoals first grade skipper and proud Indigenous man Steven Brandon.
"The Indigenous round is something I am very passionate about and it came about when myself and a few other guys around the club wanted to acknowledge our large indigenous population of the community we play in," Brandon said.
"We also want to do it so that we can promote rugby to Indigenous people in the community to come give rugby a go."
Brandon, who has played in numerous Indigenous rounds alongside his brothers Mark and Kieran during his time at the Nowra-Bomaderry Jets, was keen to bring the great initiative to the 'game they play in heaven'.
"As I had a bit to do with the starting Indigenous round for the Jets and I wanted to celebrate my culture and heritage that I'm extremely proud of at Shoalhaven Rugby Club," he said.
"So I had discussion with the rugby club and last year was a little bit full-on with all the events we had on, so this year we made a commitment to it and wanted to do it justice and the right way.
"We have a massive community of Indigenous people and a lot do play league in the region, so I see it as a platform for us to get more of the community involved and promote the great game of rugby to Indigenous people."
Both first and reserve grade Shoals team will wear the Webb designed jerseys against Bowral - one of the top teams in the Illawarra Rugby competition.
Webb is a Dharawal born man and recognised from Dharuk and Gundungurra people of NSW and recognise the Anangu people; the traditional owners of the central Australia that is the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands and the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) lands.
"The jerseys show our connection through totems and spirit from bush to salt water," Brandon, who is the nephew of Shoals product and dual international Andrew Walker, said.
"As well as the journey of the animal spirits and our connection with our hands now to earth.
"It also explains learning circles which shows our knowledge and respect."
As excited as he is for August 17, Brandon hopes this round becomes an annual event on the Shoals calendar.
"This initiative brings together two of my major passions; rugby and my heritage," he said.
"I can say with all the pride in the world that these two things have made me into the man I am today.
"I can't wait to pull on the jersey and do my family and heritage proud, especially alongside my four brothers (Mark, Kieran, Ashley and Simon) - it's an event that I believe is only going to get bigger each year."