New Zealand Māori will face the Australian Indigenous All Stars in a men’s and women’s double-header in Melbourne next February.
The NRL has revamped the All Stars concept after a one-year break, replacing the World All Stars with a New Zealand Māori side to add some ‘passion, culture and tribalism’ to the event which first kicked off back in 2010.
The clash will be played at AAMI Park on Friday, February 15. It will see the likes of Newcastle Knights star Kalyn Ponga face Indigenous All Stars’ Greg Inglis.
For the first time, the event will include a women’s match with the same teams.
South Sydney Rabbitohs outside-back Dane Gagai is one of four players eligible for both teams, along with Reimis Smith, Javid Bowen and Josh Hoffman. They will have to pledge allegiances to one of the teams in the coming months before the January voting window.
The NRL had always planned to bring back the Indigenous All Stars team but the least supported concept was the original World All Stars team, but the New Zealand Māori team has already received great support.
NRL.com have listed potential line-ups for both teams…
Indigenous All Stars: Greg Inglis; Josh Addo-Carr, Latrell Mitchell, James Roberts, Dane Gagai; Cody Walker, Johnathan Thurston/Ash Taylor; Andrew Fifita, Nathan Peats, Ryan James, Joel Thompson, Wade Graham, Jack Bird. Subs: Tyrone Peachey, Sam Thaiday, Adam Elliott, David Fifita.
Reserves: Will Chambers, Jack Wighton, Blake Ferguson, Alex Johnston, Bevan French, Connor Watson, Aiden Sezer, Corey Thompson.
New Zealand Māori: Kalyn Ponga; Jordan Rapana, Dylan Walker, Dean Whare, Valentine Holmes; Corey Norman, Benji Marshall; Jesse Bromwich, Issac Luke, Jordan McLean, Tohu Harris, Corey Harawira-Naera, Elijah Taylor. Subs: Kodi Nikorima, James Tamou, Joseph Tapine, Russell Packer.
Reserves: Adam Blair, James Fisher-Harris, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Jordan Kahu, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Kevin Proctor.