Johnathan Thurston has today been named captain of the Indigenous All Stars as online voting opened for the public to select their team for the 2012 Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars.
Thurston was joined at the announcement in Newcastle by fellow Indigenous members of VB Kangaroos Four Nations squad, including Sam Thaiday, Greg Inglis, Willie Tonga and Jharal Yow Yeh, ahead of the Test at Ausgrid Stadium this Sunday.
Fans can begin voting at www.nrl.com/allstars from 2pm AEST today for the 16 publicly-voted players in the 2012 Indigenous All Stars, with the list of eligible players featuring some of the best athletes in Rugby League.
Voting will close on November 28 for the Indigenous team for the 2012 Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars, which will be played on February 4 at Skilled Park, on the Gold Coast, providing a spectacular springboard to the NRL season.
The 20-man squad will be made up of Thurston (who is an automatic selection as captain), the 16 publicly-voted players and three remaining players to be determined by Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council selectors and Indigenous All Stars coach Laurie Daley once public voting has closed.
“It was a massive honour to captain the side last year in Preston Campbell’s absence and I am really looking forward to leading the team again in 2012,” said Thurston.
“This game means so much to all of the players and I know blokes like Greg Inglis are really looking forward to the opportunity to play in the All Stars for the first time.
“It means a lot to our people and our families and we feel very privileged to be part of such a great week of celebrations.”
It will be the third time the game’s best Indigenous and non-Indigenous players have been brought together under the All Stars umbrella in a unique celebration of the diversity of Rugby League.
Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council Chairman, Mr William ‘Smiley’ Johnstone, said the All Stars concept continues to grow and captures the hearts and imaginations of people across Australia.
“A national television audience of almost one million watched the 2011 event, which attracted a sell-out crowd,” Mr Johnstone said.
“The Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars is one of the most significant events in Rugby League’s history and the only representative match in Australian sport where the public picks the teams.”
Last year 37,000 complete teams were submitted by the public, with over 940,000 votes cast across the two teams.
Indigenous All Stars Coach Laurie Daley said he was incredibly proud to be involved with the All Stars match and that he is again looking forward to working with the team hand-picked by the fans.
“We have so many incredibly gifted athletes with freakish ability so it’s going to be a really tough job choosing who to vote for,” Daley said.
“The list of eligible players includes some of the best talent in Rugby League and they are all very keen to represent their people, their heritage and Indigenous Australia.”
The Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council, in co-operation with the 16 NRL Clubs, has determined a list of players eligible for the 16 publicly-voted places in the side and it is now up to the fans to decide who will take to the field in February.
Nominated players eligible for the Indigenous All Stars are:
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Indigenous All Stars voting overview:
- Fans to vote for 16 players from the eligible player list
- Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council selects captain as an automatic selection
- Indigenous All Stars selectors choose the three remaining players at the conclusion of public voting
- Public voting closes at 11:59pm AEDT on Monday, November 28, 2011.
- Voting for the NRL All Stars side will commence later this year.
Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars Ticket Categories and Prices
Tickets are available through Ticketek outlets, on 132 849 or online at www.ticketek.com.au
New Zealand customers can call 0800 842 538 or+61 132 849.