6754572878?profile=RESIZE_710xRound 12 is a special point in the NRL calendar, as Eels utility Will Smith knows too well.

It’s Indigenous Round.

“It just makes me very proud to be an Indigenous man. It’s one of those weekends where we get to celebrate our culture,” he said.

The Parramatta Eels will play the Bulldogs wearing specially designed jerseys by Aboriginal artist Danielle Mate Sullivan, with input from Will.

“The artwork is called connection so it’s about a connection between the past and the present,” Danielle said.

“I’m absolutely rapt with it. The colours are so intense and there’s so much to look at on it.”


Eels' "pride" in 2020 Indigenous Jersey

One of the more special features on the jersey is on the back.

“My favourite (part) would be just down the back there, there’s four hands. Two of the hands are my two kids of two of the hands are Fergo’s two kids. I think it’s just a great touch, they’ll love that,” Will said.

“My kids are very proud to be Indigenous. My daughter goes to a school here in Parramatta and she is the only Indigenous kid at the whole school and she is very proud to tell everyone at the school that she is Indigenous,” he said.


The large circle on the front of the jersey represents the meeting place for the players/warriors of the game, while the line to the top is a journey line to the players’ homelands.

The smaller circles are a nod to communities the Eels visit and work with.

“The past is represented by the warrior and the Parramatta River. The Burramattagal people, who are a clan of the Darug, have a connection to this river where they first settled and caught fish, eels and other sources of food,” Danielle said.

Colours from the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Flags feature on the sides of the jersey.


“I can’t wait to see all the players with the jersey on run out onto the field ... That will be a really proud moment,” Danielle said.

“For an organisation as big as the NRL to acknowledge and to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is huge,” she said.

Blake hopes the Round will not only bring Indigenous culture to the forefront, but also prompt important conversations.

“Everyone’s equal, everyone bleeds the same, so just hopefully we can get that across the board and get that local knowledge into everyone about elders past, present and future. There are conversations to be had,” he said.

You can purchase the 2020 Eels Indigenous Jersey here and see more of Danielle Mate Sullivan's work at her website

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                  • The more I learn about aboriginal culture the more amazing I find it - I really love all the belonging about it , and the listening aspect to it . 

                  • Well said, Dean

                  • Mate what are you carrying on about? 

                    You work - yeah?

                    You own your home - yeah?

                    You pay taxes - yeah?

                    Well as far as I can tell you are being treated equally. I'm in the exact same boat as you, except I'm white.....

                    No one is saying you aren't entitled to being treated equally, what I'm saying is that we are still talking about what happened 230/240 years ago as if it has anything to do with today's Australian population. 

                    If the Aboriginal people move on so will the rest of the population because from where I sit, they aren't after equality, they are after special treatment. And that's the essence of the problem. True equality is EVERYONE being treated equally, not some people receiving special treatment because of ones heritage, skin colour or religion.


            • "Aboriginal first land owners cry me a river story."  Geez, you really are an insensitive privileged person. I'd love to see you say those words to indigenous elders, to the stolen generation and our own indigenous players in person. You wouldn't because you'd rather be a keyboard hero.

              Yes, other countries have gone through the same. But take New Zealand - the respect the entire country has for it's indigenous people is something to admire.

              Attitude like yours is what's holding this country back.


              • +1 EaM

              • Shut the hell up old man. My opinion is what's holding the country back? Haha, yeah it's got zero to do with the indigenous attitude.

                I'd love to see you say those fighting words to my face too - but you won't because guess what? You're a keyboard warrior yourself.

                Every word I have posted was spot on. The Aboriginal people as a whole, like to play the victim card when in all honesty they don't have to. They don't just get treated equally, they get treated SPECIAL.

                If they go for a job, guess what? They get special dispensation because they are indigenous.

                If they get a home loan, guess what? They get a discounted loan because they are indigenous.

                There are countless other benefits they have access to that others who are 4/5 generation Australian have zero access too. Does that sound fair?

                Now as insensitive as my comments are to you old man, I'm only pointing out the facts. Despite the government's in the past and present bending over backwards to support the indigenous community you still have the victim card being played and tbh it's wearing a little thin. If it's not for you then sell up and give them your home - let's see if the whinging stops then. I'm willing to bet it won't.

                • Oh Frankie boy, I'd love nothing more than to tell you to your face. Despite my alias name, I'm younger than you think. No matter the conversation, when it comes to race and equality of any form, you always manage to drag it into the gutter with comments written to provoke. You sound less and less educated every time you type. 

                  But here's the thing, I don't believe anyone can be so heartless. Yes, even you. So tell me, is there anything about our indigenous history, culture and community you're proud of?


                  • You are a sensitive little soy boy aren't you?

                    And what exactly have I articulated above that's brought this debate into the gutter?

                    Was it the fact that I made the point that Aboriginals don't want equality but they are after special treatment?

                    I'm all for equality, what I'm not for is handouts and special privileges just because of your skin colour, race or religion. Now if that's bringing the debate into the gutter, then that's where it lives.

                    As for educated, I'm not brainwashed like you are EAM, you love swallowing that lefty knob don't you?

                    • I hate soy if you must know and before you start stereotyping (you seem good at that), I'm not - vegetarian, gluten free nor do I consider myself a lefty. My conversations are based on common sense, history, respect and empathy.

                      Oh and your "you love swallowing that lefty knob" comment answers your own question about bringing conversations into the gutter.

                    • You can't get over the fact that all the points I made about the aboriginals were spot on and not insensitive. If pointing out facts is insensitive then it's you who should look in the mirror and question your own sense of right and wrong,

                      They are arguing for equality well I outlined why they aren't treated equally but rather favourably.

                      You can argue till your blue in the face about not being a leftie, but every single political stance you've taken on this website has had a major left leaning slant and I'm almost certain that my characterisation of you as a raging leftie is spot on.

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