Rugby Australia is set to choose between Tests in Sydney and Melbourne for the second roll-out of the hugely popular Wallabies indigenous jersey.
Fairfax Media understands Rugby Australia is keen to take the jersey to as many states as possible and will look to use it in a Test outside Queensland this year.
That leaves only three possible matches: either the Melbourne or Sydney Tests against Ireland in June, or the first Bledisloe Cup clash in Sydney on August 18.
The Dennis Golding-designed jersey, emblazoned with 14 waterholes to represent each of the 14 indigenous Australians to have worn the Wallaby gold, sold out after its debut in the third Bledisloe Test last year.
It was the first time manufacturer ASICS had to commission a second production run for the Wallabies jersey, with close to 4000 sold over an eight-week period. A run of scarves, balls and hats featuring the design also sold quickly, hitting the 2000 mark after the Wallabies 23-18 win against the All Blacks in Brisbane.
The popularity prompted RA to commit to featuring the jersey in a home Test each year. It is understood the same design will be used in each outing.
Unlike the NRL and AFL, which have dedicated indigenous rounds in their competitions, rugby has never adopted an official nation-wide period to honour its indigenous history and players. RA sees the international span of Super Rugby as a hurdle to adopting a competition-wide indigenous round.
Instead, each Australian club has been left to their own devices. The Waratahs introduced the Pasifika jersey for their final home game last season, the Reds have held an indigenous round since 2012, while the Rebels last produced an indigenous jersey in 2014. The Brumbies announced in January they would wear a specially-designed indigenous jersey for their captain's run training sessions and pre-match warm ups before every Super Rugby match this season.
Fairfax Media understands there are discussions afoot in Australia to look at whether Super Rugby could adopt an indigenous or heritage round across the competition, which would give rugby one big hitout instead of diluting the theme across the season.
Indications are new chief executive Raelene Castle is receptive to suggestions the code needs to ramp up its work to improve indigenous participation.
RA's community and Pacific partnerships boss Adam Thomas revealed the governing body was targeting all-indigenous men's and women's sevens squads as an over-arching goal.
"That's obviously a long way down the track but we want more Kurtley Beales, Mahalia Murphys and John Porches in the game," Thomas said.
"To do that we need to formalise our pathways a big more so we can get more kids on the path to playing rugby at the elite level. What that actually looks like we don't know, but we have some ideas and ultimately we want to put together an all-indigenous men's and women's squad."
RA has formed an indigenous rugby joint management committee with the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team and the Australian Rugby Foundation. Castle will sit down next month with the LRMDT's Gary Ella, ARF executive director Peter Murphy and Thomas next month to map out a strategy, Thomas said.
Rugby is seeing a good return on investment in growing school age indigenous participation through its Deadly 7s program, despite a recent funding hiatus.
Over its first two years, the program doubled its reach, going from 2400 indigenous students in 38 schools in 2016 to 5,700 students in 76 schools last year. In December the Department of Prime Minister of Cabinet cut its funding of the program, but RA announced on Monday that the Australian Sports Commission had stepped in to fill the gap through its $160 million Sporting Schools Program.
Thomas said interest in the free, five-week program spiked last October after the Wallabies wore the indigenous jersey for the first time.