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'Chosen One' wins jersey design comp

The creative force born from a blend of North Queensland rugby league connection and Aboriginal heritage has delivered a unique winning design for the 2020 Cowboys Indigenous jersey.

'Chosen One', designed by Nambour artist William Chambers, has taken out first place in the annual Cowboys Indigenous Jersey Design Competition and now adorns this year's striking Cowboys Indigenous jersey.  

Cowboy Scott Drinkwater proudly wears the 2020 Indigenous jersey
Cowboy Scott Drinkwater proudly wears the 2020 Indigenous jersey

The Cowboys will play in the jersey for their Indigenous Round match against the Rabbitohs at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Friday 22 May, followed by a post-match jersey auction to raise funds for the Cowboys Community Foundation.

The jersey exclusively features the Cowboys Community Foundation branding in the sternum position, thanks to major partner Diageo Australia, who have generously given up their 'Bundaberg Rum' branding position in support of the Foundation and its work in supporting the Indigenous community in North Queensland.

Design story

By William Chambers

In the Torres Strait and North Queensland Indigenous communities, the Sea Turtle is considered a delicacy. This painting represents the turtle’s journey from hatchling to fully grown adult. The smaller turtles are hatchlings on their journey from the shore to the open sea. The circles represent all obstacles and predators; not all become fully grown. The hunters with spears look for the chosen one which will become food. The fully grown turtle is also the chosen one as it gets its chance to reproduce, and continue the cycle of life.

About the artist

William Chambers (aka Billy Joe) identifies with the Kuku Yalanji/Koa traditional owner groups and has been an artist since his teenage years.

He paints in a contemporary traditional Aboriginal style after watching and being mentored by relatives and family friends who are artists.

His main influence is his father Charlie Chambers, who is an accomplished artist.

Artist Billy Joe Chambers
Artist Billy Joe Chambers

Artist's reflections

"I entered the 2020 Cowboys Indigenous Jersey Competition to pay respect to my Aboriginal heritage.

"My great grandfather was of the stolen generation; his name was also Charlie Chambers and he was part of the first rugby league team on the Yarrabah Aboriginal community in North Queensland, which is where my grandfather Livingstone Chambers was born before being sent to the Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement. 

"It means a lot to me to win this competition as rugby league runs deep in my family's blood.

"In the 1990s I was playing local rugby league in Cairns and noticed the strength of the competition improve greatly once the Cowboys announced a team would enter the national league.

"I feel greatly honoured that my design has been selected for the Cowboys jersey this year – not just for me, but also for my extended family, as I see it as an acknowledgement of my family's connection to the North Queensland Aboriginal community."

Strong competition

Cowboys General Manager – Community Fiona Pelling congratulated all of the entrants in the competition.

"Our Indigenous jersey design competition is a highlight on our calendar and we were thrilled to have a diverse range of high-quality entries to choose from this year," Ms Pelling said.

"We congratulate William on his winning design, and thank all of our artists who entered.

"NRL Indigenous Round is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our rich Indigenous culture and to recognise the achievements of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders on and off the field.

"We're looking forward to seeing William's design showcased on the national stage and our team will wear it with pride."

William receives $2,500 in prize money, a 2020 Cowboys Indigenous Jersey and four Cowboys Platinum memberships for this season.

Pre-orders for the 2020 Indigenous jersey can be made through the Cowboys Team Shop,, with the jersey expected in-store in late March.

The winning design also features on the 2020 uniform for NRL Cowboys House students and staff.

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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