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Buti's Call: Winmar's iconic gesture the most important in AFL history

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This Saturday night, Optus Stadium will witness the 50th Western Derby between West Coast and Fremantle.

This derby has finals ramifications for both teams – a win by the reigning premiers will assist their battle for a top two position and guarantee a crucial first week home final and double chance. For the Dockers, victory will help their quest to play finals footy for the first time since 2015.

The Nicky Winmar statue will be erected at Optus Stadium, which sits on Noongar land, before the 50th western derby. Credit:Wayne Ludbey

But before the first bounce, a very important event will take place outside the stadium on the banks of the Swan River - the official unveiling of a statue of Nicky Winmar, a Noongar man who grew up on the Pingelly Reserve, 154kms east of Perth.

He came down to the big smoke in 1983 as a 17-year-old to play for South Fremantle before being recruited by St Kilda in 1987.

Winmar would go on to be one of the greats for the Saints, making the St Kilda and Indigenous Teams of the Century, winning a club fairest and best in 1989 and 1995, All-Australian selection in 1991 and 1995 and many more awards and honours.

After a turbulent year with the Saints in 1998, Winmar moved to the Western Bulldogs in 1999, retiring from the AFL at the end of the season. He played 251 AFL games in total, the first Indigenous player to play over 200.

Winmar was known for his speed, spring, grace, marking prowess and accurate kicking over distance. The great full forward, Tony Lockett, who played many seasons with Winmar at St Kilda before moving to the Sydney Swans in 1995, remarked that Winmar was the most skilful player he ever played with.

But the bronze statue to be unveiled on Saturday depicts........

© The Age