A young Aboriginal youth has his eyes firmly on a start in the NRL.
Jackson Brannigan is just 16 years old but says the experience of representing his culture at two Indigenous rugby league competitions has steeled him for a berth in the National Rugby League.
The former Camden Haven Eagles player has returned home to West Haven after a stint playing in the tough Newcastle rugby league competition with the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs.
He attended Camden Haven High School and relocated for work commitments. But after representing his culture at the recent NSW Koori Knockout, Jackson says he now wants to aim for higher honours.
"Through a few friendships I was able to link up with the Taree Biripi Sharks and play in the Koori knockout,” he said.
“We won the first match against Kempsey 36-0 before going down to the Western Courier Eels in the second match, but I enjoyed the experience.
“I am passionate and proud to represent my culture and my family. Growing up, I didn’t really know much about my culture, but it is really good to get out there and celebrate it.”
On October 21 and 22 Jackson will link up with the Maitland-based Wonnarua Wedgegtails and compete in the National Indigenous Rugby League Championships in Wollongong.
“These events are a great way to catch up with family and friends and just enjoy playing good football with your mates and having some fun too,” he added.
The centre three-quarter is unsure about his immediate playing future at the local competition level but says he’d love to get picked up by an NRL team.
“I’d play for anyone that would pick me up but hopefully the Newcastle Knights,” he added.