Ricky Stuart has leapt to the defence of Jack Wighton after the star five-eighth and proud Wiradjuri man blasted his club for a lack of effort in designing their jersey for Indigenous Round.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported the Raiders are the only club not to have an Indigenous symbol on the front of their jersey as they chose represent the fact the ACT is the only jurisdiction in Australia to have a Reconciliation Day public holiday on their sleeves.
Incumbent Blues and Kangaroos centre Wighton is the only Indigenous Australian in the Raiders’ first-grade squad and believes the club should have done much more.
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“I’m very, very proud but I’m a little bit disappointed how the club went about the jersey and that. I feel like we just ticked a box, no one got any input,” Wighton told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“We’ve got a lot of First Nations people of all different types – Samoans and Maoris and that, you know – and no one really had any say about the jersey.
“I think you can tell. We had a whole canvas and they just put a little design on the sleeve. We didn’t hear nothing about it until this week. No one came to us for any ideas.
“In previous years we’ve had a lot to do with it and the club has run things past us but I felt like they got lazy this year.”
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Stuart said Wighton was in no way “disrespectful” or “rude” in his comments to Lynnice Church, the artist behind the jersey design.
“He is very passionate about his culture and I think his comments were a lot harsher written than they were said,” Stuart said on Friday.
“Jack cares, he has an opinion and it was great that he sat down with Katrina Fanning [Raiders director] yesterday and discussed those opinions because she is a quality lady and understands it from Jack’s side.
“At no time was he trying to be disrespectful or rude to Mrs Church. Lynnice has done a wonderful job on the design of our jumper.
“She should be very proud of what she’s done.”
Church is an Aboriginal woman from the Ngunnawal, Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi tribes.
While not being critical of the artist, Wighton believes the club could have gone to more effort in such a special round for his people.
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For instance South Sydney’s jersey includes a handprint of the club’s eight Indigenous players and a totem for their tribe.
The South Sydney jersey was designed by Cody Walker’s uncle Joe and has a black rabbit at its centre.
“They’ve got the best stories and put a bit of effort in. I just feel like we ticked a box this year,” Wighton said.
Raiders Indigenous Jersey. Source: Canberra RaidersSource:Supplied
“It’s terrible. I’m filthy. It’s the one round to share culture, you know what I mean, to get our artwork and stories out there, and I feel like we’ve put a pretty poor effort in, if I’m to be honest.”
Originally published asRicky responds to star’s ‘filthy’ jersey swipe
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