Indigenous All Stars means everything to Turner
Rabbitohs back-rower Kyle Turner says a return to the Indigenous All Stars side would mean the world to him when the annual event heads to Newcastle in 2017.
The 24-year-old Coonabarabran Unicorns junior featured in the 2015 fixture and is in contention for a spot in next year's side with online voting set to close at 3pm on Friday.
"It's everything to me to be honest," an emotional Turner told NRL.com.
"It's not just putting on a jersey and playing the game itself, it's playing for your mates and playing for your people. There's a strong culture amongst the group when you go into camp and nothing changes when you get on the field."
Despite suffering a serious neck injury in the Indigenous All Stars' 20-6 victory in 2015, Turner believes the experience played a big part in his development; not just as a rugby league player, but to also better understand his cultural identity.
"Even though I had the injury, I felt like my game rose to another level," he said.
"I got to play with the likes of Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis and they really lifted my game. If I can be a part of it again next year then I'll take it with arms wide open.
"We had some special guest speakers come in and we had some workshops throughout the week where we got to learn spear throwing and how to make our own spears."
Turner's emotional attachment to the cause became clear when he was presented with traditional gifts following his involvement with the NRL's Rugby League Reads program.
"We'd like to present Kyle with a possum-skin arm band and headdress," said one of the community leaders.
"These are really special cultural gifts to be given to somebody who's done a good job. Kyle has given back to his community, and as a reciprocal responsibility, we have to give something back to him. We've given him something that people prize in our country and that's the possum-skin arm band and headdress."
The gesture left him momentarily stunned.
"I'm lost for words. That will go straight up on the mantelpiece and it will stay there for many years to come," Turner said.
"Heritage and culture are very special to me, especially coming from the country and being a proud Gamilaraay boy.
"My nan was an Elder of the community so she instilled that in me to be a proud Indigenous person and to keep the culture alive, and I still carry that today.
"Be proud of who you are and never let anyone tell you anything different."