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'Feel like I belong': Best inspiring next gen on cultural journey

After learning about his culture from some of the proudest leaders in the game, Bradman Best hopes to be a mentor for the next generation of aspiring Indigenous athletes.

Finding out about his Aboriginal roots just 18 months ago, the Knights centre said he missed out on opportunities to explore his heritage at a young age. 

But after spending time in Origin camp with proud Indigenous stars Josh Addo-Carr and Cody Walker, Best wants to 'be more like' his Blues teammates and use his platform to inspire local kids kickstarting their own cultural journey.

Sharing his story in front of local students, alongside former Indigenous All Stars captain Joel Thompson, teammate Dylan Lucas and fellow Knight Tamika Upton at the NRL Community’s Social & Emotional Wellbeing Day - SEWB on Country – Best said he felt a special ‘sense of belonging’ in the room.

“It was a really good day. All the kids from different schools came and Joel was there and to speak about his program and gave the kids a bit of eye opener about mental health and his transition from playing NRL to now,” Best told

“And then I just spoke about me and my mob, where I'm from and told the kids about my journey to the NRL.

“It was so valuable and meaningful. You feel a part of something and you belong when you’re involved in those sorts of days.

Two of the best for Bradman on debut

“I wish I got that as a kid, it would have would have meant the world to me to sit in front of I guess a few people on stage that have played NRL and NRLW. But I'm glad that I'm in the position to give back to these little kids now.

“Hopefully I can guide them in some shape or form or even just put a smile on their face and at the end of the day, if I've done that then I'm happy.”

The 22-year-old's NSW debut last year came at an important time for the barnstorming centre to reflect on his family and Origin, having only found out about his Indigenous heritage after his great-grandmother’s passing in 2021.

Sharing an edge with Walker and Addo-Carr in the Blues' Game Three victory last year, Best said the opportunity to celebrate his culture on the Origin stage and break out a shake-a-leg after scoring a double was one of his proudest moments.

“I found out about a year and a half ago about my culture so it’s been about 18 months, so I've really been diving into it,” he said.

“That Origin experience was massive for me, getting to spend some time with Foxxy and Cody.

“Originally I was a bit scared because I didn't know a whole lot, but those boys showed me, there's no shame at all.

"They're such proud Indigenous leaders and I want to continue to be more like them.

“It was pretty mad when I scored a try and turned around and Foxy was doing the shake leg and I got to join in with him.

Teammates Dylan Lucas and Bradman Best flying the Indigenous flag in Multicultural Round.
Teammates Dylan Lucas and Bradman Best flying the Indigenous flag in Multicultural Round. ©NRL Photos

“To share that edge and celebrate a couple of tries, it was very special and obviously I'd love to get back into that arena."

Best said the next stop on his journey is visiting his grandmother's town of Tingha, on the Northern Tablelands of NSW, when the Knights have a bye, to connect with the local kids and community.

"I haven't had the chance to get out that way but so my manager and I have teed it up to definitely head out soon," he said.

"I’d love to do more of this and give back to the community by putting an event on or something like that.

“I'm a proud Kamilaroi boy and I love learning more about the history and the culture and I want to share that with the next generation as well.”

On April 4 and 5, the School to Work Hunter/Central Coast Regions collaborated to deliver their second annual SEWB on Country Days for 2024. SEWB, standing for Social Emotional Well-Being, is an area that the NRL School2Work team has identified as one of the most important aspects of participants' lives, and an area that greatly impacts on their growth and achieving their aspirations.