Melbourne Storm’s greatest ever Indigenous player Greg Inglis will return to the club this week as Storm launches the NRL’s Indigenous Round when it plays Manly Sea Eagles on Thursday night at AAMI Park.
Storm will celebrate and recognise the oldest living culture on earth with a special pre-game ceremony featuring AIR award-winning and ARIA-nominated artist Emily Wurramara, while Yorta Yorta singer and songwriter Scott Darlow will perform at halftime.
The pre-game ceremony includes a spectacular light show, Welcome to Country from traditional owners, smoking ceremony, Indigenous performances, and a tribute to Inglis, who will also be part of a range of activities with his former club on Wednesday.
Inglis played 118 matches for Storm across the 2005-10 seasons, playing in the finals series in every year he was with Melbourne, and represented his country in 39 Tests and Queensland in 32 State of Origin matches.
In 2018, he was named at five-eighth in the greatest team of Storm’s first 20 years.
Storm CEO Justin Rodski said the club wanted to create a new annual blockbuster to launch the NRL Indigenous Round each season at AAMI Park.
“Storm has a proud history of Indigenous players who have provided many highlights over the years and represented their people and culture with great pride,” Rodski said.
“We have a national platform to recognise and celebrate our indigenous players but more importantly we want to highlight our First Nations peoples and the club’s commitment to reconciliation and education.
“The pre-match ceremony, Welcome to Country and cultural performances will be a powerful and moving experience to be a part of, and similar to our ANZAC Day blockbuster, we strongly encourage our members and fans to be in your seat early.”
“The return of GI will be very emotional given the place he holds with our club and the role he has played in the NRL and the community more broadly.
We hope to launch Indigenous Round each year. We will be requesting this fixture with the NRL, and believe we can play an important role in celebrating indigenous round as a club.Justin Rodski CEO, Melbourne Storm
The Storm NRL squad will wear its 2022 Indigenous jersey in Thursday night’s match.
Designed by proud Yorta Yorta, Gunnai, Gunditjmara and Wurundjeri man and artist Coree Thorpe, the jersey captures not only Indigenous cultures but the history of Storm in its design, which is based on the Rainbow Serpent.
The club’s important partnerships with organisations Deadly Choices, Dardi Munwurro and Coles through the Storm First Nations Pathway Program will also be highlighted this week, acknowledging the work they do to connect Indigenous communities not only through rugby league, but by providing resources and environments to live healthier lives.
Five hundred tickets to Thursday night’s match will be distributed within Indigenous communities thanks to match day partner Coles, with ambassador Eddie Betts also scheduled to speak at an AAMI Park function ahead of kickoff.
On Wednesday, Greg Inglis and Coree Thorpe will join Storm’s players and staff for a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony in the middle of AAMI Park while the Storm squad will wear Deadly Choices shirts for their Captain’s Run training session.
Storm has already hosted an Indigenous Cultural Day as part of the NRL’s School to Work program with Coles program inaugural recipients AJ Gudgeon and Seamus King-Smith talking to students about their journey so far.