James inspired by Inglis lessons
Titans forward Ryan James has spoken about how the development of Greg Inglis into one of the most significant Indigenous figures in Australia has inspired him to become more of a leader at his club.
A three-time Indigenous All Stars representative, James captained the Titans in an NRL game for the first time earlier this season and with Nate Myles heading to Manly at the end of the season is considered one of the leading candidates to take on that leadership role in 2016.
Inglis and Cowboys superstar Johnathan Thurston were two of the driving forces behind the war dance the Indigenous players developed and performed prior to this year's All Stars match and James said he has seen a massive change in the Rabbitohs, Queensland and Australia fullback in recent years.
"He's really taken leaps and bounds in the sense that when I first went into the All Stars camp he was a bit quieter," James recalled.
"We all looked up to him and he had a voice but he just didn't really want to use it whereas this year's camp he was just an all-round leader.
"Just the way he carries himself and the way he has worked to get to the spot where he is at the moment and him as a person and a player has really helped him realise that he is probably the biggest Indigenous player in the game along with 'JT' (Thurston).
"[The war dance] was good because it came from the players and the players made up the dance so it came from the players' point of view and what they wanted to do.
"With 'GI' popping up in the middle there it signified that we were ready to go. He's probably our Indigenous leader at the moment."
Twelve months after watching the inaugural All Stars match in 2010 with 20 members of his family, James was invited into the inner sanctum for his All Stars debut in 2011.
James's mother, TerriLee, raised he and his two older brothers to always have an understanding of their Indigenous heritage but in his first All Stars camp he said not all players were as well-informed of their roots.
"I remember going in with 'Birdy' (Greg Bird) and we had a session where we were asked if we knew where we came from," James said.
"There were a handful of people who knew where they came from and they stood on one side of the room, in the middle you sort of knew and on the left it was those who had no idea.
"Everyone was pretty honest and there were a couple of people that really didn't know and put their hands up and full credit to Birdy, he figured out where he came from and he's a proud Indigenous man as well.
"I was in the middle. I sort of knew where my mother's side came from, all the Indigenous side. My grandpa grew up on the coast and he was Indigenous and my grandma was Indigenous as well and there was always Indigenous lines through both of those sides.
"From a young age Mum always told us that we were Indigenous and to be proud of where we come from. Dad's Australian and we're also proud of that side but Mum told us everything we needed to know at a young age, me and my brothers, and we stuck to those roots."
Titans teammate James Roberts showed his support for AFL superstar Adam Goodes on Monday night by performing a 'kangaroo ears' post-try celebration and wearing a wristband featuring the colours of the Aboriginal flag.
It's something he and Josh Hoffman will repeat this week for Indigenous Round which James says reaches far beyond the Indigenous players who take to the field.
"It means a lot to the wider community, for the NRL to back the Indigenous Round and have it at a significant time with Adam Goodes and all the issues he's been through at the moment," James said.
"There's been a lot of support shown and all the Indigenous players are right behind him and wider Australia as well."