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These boots were made for playing ...

True Blue Jack Wighton says the hand-painted football boots given to him for Indigenous Round have arrived at a critical time in his season.

The 30-year-old received the Puma boots from Indigenous artist and performer Daren Dunn.

Wighton announced three weeks ago he had signed with the South Sydney Rabbitohs for 2024, after 12 seasons and more than 230 NRL games for the Canberra Raiders.

The effect of that difficult decision on Wighton was evident in his thank-you message to Dunn.

“The hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I saw Daren’s artwork on the boots,” Wighton said.

“Thanks for the meanings of the boots and I can see so much effort has gone into them. I’ll be very proud to wear them – absolutely love them; they look beautiful.

“For the stuff I’m going through the last couple of weeks, the power of this message and the support and the love, I can really feel it… can’t wait to represent.

“I hope I do you proud, and all the mob proud – love you brother.”

Indigenous artist Daren Dunn holds up the boots he painted for Jack Wighton
Indigenous artist Daren Dunn holds up the boots he painted for Jack Wighton

Dunn, a proud Gamilaroi man, has also painted Puma boots for Westpac NSW Blues squad member Nicho Hynes, from the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, his teammate Will Kennedy, and another True Blue in Canterbury-Bankstown winger Josh Addo-Carr.

“I think everyone knows how important my Indigenous heritage is to me,” Hynes said.

“It’s so good to be a part of the All Stars game every February.

“And now with Indigenous Round we all get to come together again, to learn a little more about this extraordinary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.”

The Sharks are facing the Newcastle Knights on Saturday in Coffs Harbour, the Raiders are at home to the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at GIO Stadium on Sunday, and the Bulldogs host the Gold Coast Titans at Accor Stadium on Sunday.

Dunn is the creator of a unique artwork ‘Walaaybaa’ which adorns the walls of NSWRL’s Centre of Excellence at Sydney Olympic Park.

It specifically represents the NSWRL’s story and connection to Indigenous culture.

The painting is called ‘Home Country’, which is ‘Walaaybaa’ in Gamilaroi language; ‘Nguramban’ in Wiradjuri; and in Dharug it is ‘Dy inga ni nura’ or ‘Here, I see my country’.

Dunn has also created a map of traditional Indigenous nations of NSW, which features on the office wall at NSWRL headquarters. In the state of NSW there are more than 50 Koori languages.

Josh Addo-Carr boots - painted by Daren Dunn
Josh Addo-Carr boots - painted by Daren Dunn
Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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