Rugby League fans today delivered an NRL All Stars team that coach Wayne Bennett believes is an exciting reflection of the speed, skill and power of the Telstra Premiership.

NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, today joined Bennett and NRL All Stars players Benji Marshall, Nathan Hindmarsh and Shaun Kenny-Dowall to announce the NRL All Stars team to play the Learn. Earn. Legend! Indigenous All Stars in the second Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars match at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast on February 12.

More than 37,000 fans voted across the NRL All Stars two-stage selection process to select a side that features 15 new faces from the 20-man squad that played in last year’s inaugural match.

Bennett today also named Test stars Petero Civoniceva and Kurt Gidley as his two coach’s selections to join automatic picks, Australian Captain Darren Lockyer and Kiwis Captain Benji Marshall, in the team.

The 2011 NRL All Stars team is:

No.

Player

Club

1
Josh Dugan

Canberra Raiders

2
Akuila Uate

Newcastle Knights

3
Michael Jennings

Penrith Panthers

4
Jamie Lyon

Manly Sea Eagles

5
Brett Morris

St George Illawarra Dragons

6
Darren Lockyer * (c)

Brisbane Broncos

7
Benji Marshall *

Wests Tigers

8
Ben Hannant

Brisbane Broncos

9
Cameron Smith

Melbourne Storm

10
Matthew Scott

North Queensland Cowboys

11
Nathan Hindmarsh

Parramatta Eels

12
Gareth Ellis

Wests Tigers

13
Paul Gallen

Cronulla Sharks

14
Dave Taylor

South Sydney Rabbitohs

15
Ashley Harrison

Gold Coast Titans

16
Feleti Mateo

New Zealand Warriors

17
Shaun Kenny-Dowall

Sydney Roosters

18
Michael Ennis

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

19
Petero Civoniceva

Penrith Panthers

20
Kurt Gidley

Newcastle Knights

* Automatically selected players

“The NRL All Stars team is a great representation of the talent within the NRL and I congratulate the fans for bringing this group together,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said today.

“More than 51,000 votes were polled during the public selection process for the two teams and that is a reflection of how much the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars means to the game’s fans.

“Importantly, both teams will again be involved in a number of activities that celebrate the cultural diversity within Rugby League and highlight the game’s commitment to supporting Indigenous communities.”

Bennett said his involvement with the NRL All Stars last year was one of the most rewarding of his career and he is again excited to be involved with a new-look team.

“I am very pleased with the team the public has selected and I am proud to be able to include Petero Civoniceva and Kurt Gidley as my two selections.

“They are wonderful players and their leadership and experience will certainly add to what is an exciting team.

“To have a group like this together will be a great spectacle for the fans and I know this team will play with the commitment and pride that made last year’s match such a memorable encounter.”

NRL All Star and Golden Boot-winner Benji Marshall, who today joined fellow NRL All Stars Nathan Hindmarsh and Shaun Kenny-Dowall at NRL headquarters for the team announcement, added: “There’s a few guys in there I have never had the chance to play alongside, like Hindy and Petero, and that’s what makes this such an exciting concept, getting the chance to play with some of these great players.”

“It was an unforgettable experience last year and I am sure all the boys coming in this year will be excited to be part of it.”

The NRL All Stars team will come together for the first time in Sydney on Sunday, February 6, with its first public appearance at St Marys in Sydney’s west on Monday, February 7.

If one of the players announced today as part NRL All Stars side 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.

The NRL All Stars will play the Learn. Earn. Legend! Indigenous All Stars in only the second ever Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars, at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast on Saturday, February 12, the eve of the third Federal Government’s National Apology to the Stolen Generations.

One of the significant outcomes of the game will be that it will once again inject an anticipated $1.5million into community programs developed by Rugby League’s One Community and the 16 NRL Clubs with a particular focus on health, welfare, education and employment initiatives in Indigenous communities.

Less than 1,000 tickets remain for the All Stars game with remaining tickets available through Ticketek outlets, on 132 849 or www.ticketek.com.au. New Zealand customers can call 0800 842 538 or +61 132 849.

The 2011 Learn. Earn. Legend! Indigenous All Stars team, announced by coach Laurie Daley in November last year, is as follows:

Player

Club

Preston Campbell (c)

Gold Coast Titans

Nathan Merritt

South Sydney Rabbitohs

Willie Tonga

North Queensland Cowboys

Greg Inglis

South Sydney Rabbitohs

Jharal Yow Yeh

Brisbane Broncos

Scott Prince

Gold Coast Titans

Johnathan Thurston

North Queensland Cowboys

Tom Learoyd-Lahrs

Canberra Raiders

Travis Waddell

Canberra Raiders

George Rose

Manly Sea Eagles

Sam Thaiday

Brisbane Broncos

Jamal Idris

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Greg Bird

Gold Coast Titans

Ben Barba

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Jamie Soward

St George Illawarra Dragons

Carl Webb

Parramatta Eels

Cory Paterson

Newcastle Knights

Joel Thompson

Canberra Raiders

Ryan James

Gold Coast Titans

Matt Bowen

North Queensland Cowboys

The 2011 Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars will also see the Gold Coast host a free public festival and concert showcasing Indigenous arts, heritage and sporting activities and entertainment, at Broadwater Parklands from February 11-12.

The free public concert on Friday, February 11, will feature some of Australia’s most talented Indigenous performers including singer/songwriter Dan Sultan, the Bangarra Dance Theatre, hip hop performer Brothablack and pop duo Microwave Jenny while on Saturday night, the Festival will culminate in a live telecast of the game on a giant screen.