Captain Darren Lockyer has urged rugby league fans to make the most of the chance to play selector for super coach Wayne Bennett before online voting closes tonight for the NRL All Stars.
"It is a unique opportunity for rugby league fans to have their say in the selection of the NRL All Stars team ... and it will be really interesting to see what team they come up with," Lockyer said today.
"Having said that, I agree with Wayne Bennett when he said he was more than happy to hand the control over to the public because it is too hard to pick."
The final stage of voting closes at 11.59pm AEDT (10.59pm in Queensland) tonight at www.nrl.com/allstars
and challenges fans to select only one player from each club from a 64-man shortlist to join Lockyer and vice-captain Benji Marshall for the February 12 match against the Indigneous All Stars At Skilled Park, Gold Coast.
The shortlist was announced four weeks ago following the first stage of public voting, which saw more than 21,000 fans take up the opportunity to elect four players from each club (two backs and two forwards).
Five changes have been made to the original shortlist due to player injuries - Bulldogs Greg Eastwood and Frank Pritchard have been replaced by Michael Ennis and Aiden Tolman; the Warriors’ Manua Vatuvei has been replaced by Krisnan Inu; the Roosters' Mitchell Pearce replaces Todd Carney; and the Panthers' Sam McKendry is in for Luke Lewis.
"Everyone who played in the match and was involved in the week of activities prior to the All Stars game last year really enjoyed being part of it," said Lockyer. "It is quite a novelty for the guys to play alongside people from different clubs and even countries that you may not get the chance to even at Origin or national level, such as the likes of Benji Marshall and Gareth Ellis (if he is chosen) for example. "For me, having played all my career with the Broncos, I really enjoy the opportunity to mix with players from the other clubs - and even the NSW Origin reps - in this environment and the whole All Stars concept is great for the game." Lockyer says he is just as keen now getting ready for his 17th season with the Broncos as he was when he started first grade in 1995. Overview of NRL All Stars voting:
- The first player to be chosen in the NRL All Stars team will be the player who scores the highest number of overall votes in a position.
- Once a player from one club is placed in the team, no other player from that club can be chosen.
- If a player withdraws from the team due to injury, he will be replaced by someone from the bench.
- The open bench spot will then be replaced by someone from the injured player’s club, with the new player having recorded the second highest number of votes from that club, either as a forward, back or utility, depending on the position needed for the bench.
- The Australian and New Zealand captains are automatically included in the team.
- At the end of Stage Two voting, the coach selects from shortlisted players still available, the two remaining players to complete the 20-man squad.
Less than 1500 tickets are available for the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars, with tickets available through Ticketek outlets, on 132 849
New Zealand customers can call 0800 842 538 or +61 132 849.