This weekend sees the return of the NRL’s yearly curtain raiser as the Indigenous and Maori sides go to head-to-head in the NRL All Stars clash.
Once again, we have reached that time of year where a new season of NRL action is fast approaching. With that, the Indigenous All Stars and Maori All Stars are set to renew what is clearly becoming an epic rivalry with amazing cultural significance.
The concept itself was launched in 2010 but this year will be the fourth contest between these two sides. There will be plenty to play for as both teams share a win apiece while a 10-10 draw in 2021 sees the titanic battle perfectly poised.
For the first time since its inception the blockbuster clash will take place in Sydney at CommBank Stadium. Even though Laurie Daley’s Indigenous side have no Latrell Mitchell this year due to suspension, they still have a game changing backline that can cause plenty of havoc.
The frightening speed of Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Josh Addo-Carr on the wings offers a great amount of explosiveness. Will Kennedy and Nicho Hynes have the ability to create plenty of chances. Meanwhile, David Kidwell’s side boasts a formidable forward unit as James Fisher-Harris, Joe Tapine, Kenny Bromwich, Briton Nikora and Jazz Tevaga leading the powerhouse pack.
NRL All Stars squads
Indigenous: Kennedy; Tabuai-Fidow, Ramien, Naden, Addo-Carr; Hynes, Trindall; A Fifita, Cotter, James, D Fifita, Fuimaono, Curran. Subs: Kelly, W Smith, Taunoa-Brown, Kerr. Coach: Laurie Daley.
Maori: Rapana; Harper, Walker, R Smith, Herbert; Harris-Tavita, K Nikorima; Tapine, Clark, Fisher-Harris, K Bromwich, B Nikora, Tevaga. Subs: Marsters, Hunt, Robati, Proctor. Coach: David Kidwell.
NRL All Stars team news
The Indigenous all-stars have a slightly changed up squad to last year, as full-back Kennedy, stand-off Hynes and scrum half Brayden Trindall present a new look spine for Laurie Daley’s side.
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow starts on the wing while prodigies Selwyn Cobbo and Tyrell Sloan are included on the reserves as standby. In a shock move, Shaquai Mitchell, brother of Latrell, has also been called up despite not making his NRL debut.
There are plenty of All Stars debutants for the Maori side as well. Chanel Harris-Tavita plays in his first outing as he partners co-captain and Warriors team-mate Kodi Nikorima in the halves.
Meanwhile, Jordan Rapana, Morgan Harper and Reimis Smith make their debuts on the backline. Erin Clark and Jazz Tevaga take up the hooker and loose forward roles respectively whilst also making their first NRL All Stars appearance.”
Ones to watch
With plenty of stars set to make their debut in the highly cultural showdown, there will be plenty worth watching. For the Indigenous team it may be hard to take your eyes off Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow. The North Queensland Cowboys speedster has established himself as one of the league’s most exciting youngsters with his dazzling pace being his standout trait. The 20-year-old starts on the wing and if he can find any free space then it is going to be extremely difficult to stop him.
As for the Maori side, they have their own young talent looking to make their presence felt and that is Chanel Harris-Tavita. The 22-year-old contains plenty of raw potential as he continues to try and fully establish himself in the Warriors set-up. A selection of injuries interrupted his progress last year but now the half-back will be looking for that breakthrough season with his dynamism, defensive tenacity and creativity being his biggest attributes.
With so many premier talents on show there is going to be to be plenty of intriguing match-ups but the full-back battle between Will Kennedy and Jordan Rapana presents a great tussle. Both players were key players for their club sides last season, with Kennedy cementing himself as Cronulla’s key offensive catalyst after finishing tied seventh on the Dally M leaderboard. Rapana was a big bright spot for a struggling Canberra side.
Saturday, February 12 – 9.10am (UK time) – Sky Sports Arena or Watch NRL
CommBank Stadium, Sydney