Almanac Rugby League – Indigenous All Stars v New Zealand Maori All Stars: Footy’s back at last!

Top flight rugby league returns on Friday night when the Australian Indigenous All Stars take on the NZ Maori All Stars at Melbourne’s AAMI Park. It’s five months since Cooper Cronk’s heroics in the NRL Grand Final, so it’s about time the footy is back!


In Brisbane’s Courier Mail yesterday, journalist Matthew Condon wrote that he and his daughter have been suffering RLDD (Rugby League Deficit Disorder) since September and that they’ve got it bad. Their focus is on the return of the Broncos who play their first round match against the Melbourne Storm on March 14. Perhaps tomorrow night’s game might be an interim tonic to tide them over for the following 27 days.


The northern press has given this game some pretty good advance publicity. (I can only hope that this has been matched in Sydney and, to some extent at least, in Melbourne.) The focus up here has been on Dane Gagai’s decision to play for the NZ combination rather than the Oz line-up. In previous years, he’s been a member of Indigenous teams against the NRL All Stars. Gagai boasts both Indigenous and Maori ancestry and, to please his mother, he’s opted to use her Maori heritage to find his place in the New Zealand team.


Another storyline looked at last year’s Origin and club battles between Latrell Mitchell and Will Chambers. Now they find themselves on the same side! They’ve played the line ‘what happens on the field days on the field’ and claim to be good buddies this side of the white line. Watch those games from last year and that’s just a bit hard to take.


Here’s how the teams will take the field (as at the time of writing):


Indigenous All Stars: Bevan French, Blake Ferguson, James Roberts, Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr, Cody Walker, Tyrone Roberts, Andrew Fifita, Nathan Peats, Josh Kerr, David Fifita, Adam Elliott, Tyrone Peachey. Interchange: Will Chambers, Leilani Latu, Chris Smith, Alex Johnston, Jesse Ramien, Tyrell Fuimaono, Kotoni Staggs.


New Zealand Maori All Stars: Peta Hiku, Dane Gagai, Esan Marsters, Dean Whare, Jordan Kahu, Kalyn Ponga, Jahrome Hughes, Jesse Bromwich, Brandon Smith, James Tamou, Kevin Proctor, Tohu Harris, Adam Blair. Interchange: Danny Levi, Brad Takairangi, James Fisher-Harris, Gerard Beale, Corey Harawira-Naera, Joseph Tapine, Kenny Bromwich.


Just writing up this names makes me happy that we’re about to get back into a new season. They also make me think that this could be quite a game with the named players providing a salacious mixture of brawn, bravado, brute force, speed, skill and the spectacular.


Blow that whistle, ref!


You can catch the game live on both Channel Nine and Fox.


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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A loyal Queenslander, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. Enjoys travel, coffee and cake, reading, and has been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. One of Footy Almanac's online editors who enjoys the occasional editing opportunity to assist aspiring writers.

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