Indigenous heritage a 'surprise' for PJ Marsh

It has been a lifelong dream for the likes of Preston Campbell and Nathan Merritt to represent their people, but had this week’s inaugural Indigenous All Stars game been held just three years ago there would certainly have been no sign of PJ Marsh.<br><br>The Indigenous hooker has only recently learned of his Aboriginal heritage after relatives began digging into the past – his appearance at Skilled Park on Saturday night the surprise icing on his already impressive career cake.<br><br>“My father started looking around a bit – and my grandmother too – a few years ago because we didn’t really know too much at all about our family history,” Marsh revealed to NRL.com today.<br><br>“It was a mystery to all of us. So they started going through some old records and as it turns out I have some Aboriginal bloodlines.<br><br>“It came as a bit of a surprise but I must say that I’m very proud of my heritage and it’s fascinating to go back and gradually find out more and more about where I came from.”<br><br>No doubt it came as a surprise to some when Marsh’s name was read aloud on the Indigenous All Stars team sheet.<br><br>While Campbell and co. have always spruiked the virtues of their people, Marsh is better known as the man who came back from a broken neck (suffered while playing for the Warriors in 2003). <br><br>As it turns out, there is more to the veteran dummy-half than meets the eye – although the 29-year-old insists he wasn’t entirely taken aback by the news he was part-Aboriginal.<br><br>“I’ve always felt that I had a connection with Indigenous people and certainly in a playing sense everything seemed to come quite naturally,” said Marsh, who grew up near Rockhampton in far North Queensland.<br><br>“I’m very close to that side of the family. <br><br>“So I wouldn’t say it came as any real surprise – if anything I would say that everything makes sense now.<br><br>“I used to go on Aboriginal camps as a kid through school, camping in the Tableland Mountains and stuff like that with the Torres Straight Islanders.<br><br>“The main difference now is that I’m a lot more interested in finding out stuff about myself – what tribe I’m from and things like that.<br><br>“I’ve already done a little bit of research already and it’s something I’ll keep doing from now on because I think it’s fascinating.”<br><br>This week’s game represents a return to the representative arena for Marsh, who was recalled to the Queensland Origin side for the first time in five years in 2008 before injury sidelined him for Games 2 and 3.<br><br>More importantly though, it is his chance to impress among elite company once again, after falling out of favour with Brisbane Broncos coach Ivan Henjak last season.<br><br>Fighting it out for the hooking role with Aaron Gorrell and youngster Andrew McCullough, Marsh played just five games in Broncos colours and spent most of the year playing catch-up for Queensland Cup side Central Comets.<br><br>“It was a disappointing season but I know I’ve still got plenty to offer,” he said.<br><br>“It’s the same old story – I feel good, I’m fit and I’m fresh so it’s just a matter of playing my best and hoping the opportunities arrive for me.<br><br>“It would be nice to establish myself again. I certainly still consider myself a first-grader.”<br><br>Marsh said there was no better stage upon which to show what he has to offer than the All Stars game, where he will be pitted against the best in the NRL.<br><br>“You only have to look at the players in that NRL All Stars side to know that it’s going to be a tough game,” he said.<br><br>“I’m playing against the best again and that’s what I love to do.<br><br>“It’s going to be a great opportunity.”