Originally from Mackay, Queensland, Dane Gagai's Indigenous background is Torres Strait Islander.
"Culture to me is important because we need to recognise the traditional owners of the land, who are the Aboriginal people," Gagai said ahead of Round 10 of the NRL Telstra Premiership, which is Indigenous Round.
The Newcastle Knights star has been selected twice for the Indigenous All Stars and once for Queensland State of Origin.
"Growing up watching my dad play got me into rugby league – he was obviously my favourite player to watch. Then my cousin Josh Hoffman signed with the Brisbane Broncos and I knew that's what I wanted to do," Gagai said.
"I think the biggest name to come out of Mackay was Cathy Freeman. She was obviously one athlete who showed that you could make something of yourself coming out of Mackay.
"The difference rugby league makes in the Indigenous Round is raising awareness and closing the gap, bringing community together and recognising the traditional owners of the land."