Australian and Panthers utility Luke Lewis has been ruled out of the All Stars next month as the second stage of public voting got underway yesterday.
Panthers Football Manager Jason Wrigley today confirmed Lewis "definitely would not be available" for the Harvey Norman All Stars match on February 12 after injuring his ankle in the 22nd minute of the Four Nations Final in November. His ankle is in a brace until the middle of this month just prior to his wedding.
His spot in the 64-man shortlist will be taken by Penrith's New Zealand international prop Sam McKendry, 21.
Lewis topped the polls for the Penrith club at the end of the first stage of public voting last week, just ahead of Michael Jennings, who played in the inaugural match last year.
The top two voted backs and top two forwards from each club formed a 64-man shortlist for Stage Two voting, with rugby league fans now asked to choose only one player from each club for the NRL All Stars team to play the Indigenous All Stars at Skilled Park, Gold Coast.
Panthers captain Petero Civoniceva and Michael Gordon were the other Penrith players to make the shortlist.
NRL All Stars coach Wayne Bennett will blog with rugby league fans tomorrow on www.nrl.com
to discuss how he would like to see the side take shape.
From Midday to 12:45pm AEDT (11.00am-11:45am in Queensland - Wednesday, January 5), the seven- time Premiership-winning coach will offer his insights and advice to the public selectors about the make-up of the NRL All Stars team.
Stage Two of voting remains open until 11:59pm AEDT on January 27 and fans have been asked to take into account Bennett’s positioning guidelines when they select their line-up of 16 players to join Australian and New Zealand Test captains Darren Lockyer and Benji Marshall.
An additional two players will be selected by Bennett at the conclusion of Stage Two voting for a seven-man bench.
The first stage of voting for the NRL All Stars saw more than 21,000 fans lodge their votes and the task ahead is a tough one, with fans having to choose between such names as Dave Taylor and Roy Asotasi at the Rabbitohs, Neville Costigan and Kurt Gidley at the Knights and Feleti Mateo and Manu Vatuvei at the Warriors.
To vote, click here.
Rugby League fans are also being reminded to secure their tickets for the 2011 Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars, with less than 2000 tickets remaining.
Tickets are available through Ticketek outlets, on 132 849 or click here.
New Zealand customers can call 0800 842 538 or +61 132 849.