Try telling Wade Graham the All Stars clash doesn’t have relevance.
The Cronulla backrower says the besieged event has launched him on an unexpected but welcome journey of discovery into his Indigenous roots.
And it all began with an off the cuff comment from his Sharks skipper Paul Gallen.
Graham confirmed that he knocked back the chance to play for Laurie Daley’s Indigenous All Stars last year simply because he was completely ignorant of his heritage.
A year older and wiser, Graham says he is finally ready to not only shine for the Indigenous All Stars but also truly appreciate the honour.
“It started last year with a couple of withdrawals from the team last year, Gal was talking to Laurie at a (NSW) Blues thing and he mentioned that I had an Indigenous background on my father’s side,” Indigenous All Stars’ Graham told NRL TV.
“Laurie gave me the call but it wasn’t something that I had been brought up with or knew too much about.
“Rather than rush into it last year I thought it was best to go through the process of identifying and reconnecting (with my background) instead of jumping into the week.”
Graham said working with NRL welfare manager Dean Widders to unveil his background had not only been an eye opener for himself for also his extended family.
“My dad is from Grafton but he came to Sydney quite young and never went back to where he was from – he didn’t look too much into it either,” Graham said.
“To him his family was us. It has only been the last year where we have chatted more about it and found out more.
“He’s learning this for the first time too, it’s been quite a personal thing yet quite a family thing too – it’s been good.
“It was a journey for me, and my cousins are all stoked about it too – it’s good for my family to do it together.”