NRL All Stars coach Wayne Bennett has today unveiled just how fans can select the first team to feature players from all 16 NRL clubs in the historic match against the Indigenous All Stars at the Gold Coast on February 13, 2010.
With his former star Wendell Sailor on hand to remind him just how hard that task may be, the legendary coach revealed a two-stage voting process that will see the 16 club nominees join Kangaroo and Kiwi Test stars Darren Lockyer, Cameron Smith, Benji Marshall and Adam Blair in the 20-man side.
The NRL also unveiled an exciting set of one-off rules for the match, including the ability to forgo a conversion attempt in return for an extra ‘play’ and the chance for a ‘double try’.
Already the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars game, which marks the second anniversary of Prime Minister Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generation, has involved 17,000 fans in voting for the Indigenous All Stars team announced in Brisbane last week – and it has seen over 18,000 tickets sold with more than two months to kick-off.
The Indigenous All Stars announced last Friday has already been billed as one of the most exciting teams ever assembled.
Today, NRL All Stars coach Wayne Bennett outlined how the public can help him meet the challenge.
From today, fans can log on to www.nrl.com/allstars and choose two forwards and two backs from each club.
Stage One voting will remain open until midnight on December 26.
Once the public provides 64 names, Bennett will determine which positions he wants each player to be considered for, which positions he wants covered on the bench and where he will place the four internationals.
The public will then commence Stage Two, nominating the top player for each position with the player who scores the highest number of overall votes in a position becoming the first chosen.
Once a player from one club is placed in the team, no other player from that club can be chosen.
Stage Two voting will open on January 3 and close at midnight on January 29.
If a player withdraws from the team due to injury, he will be replaced by someone from the bench.
The bench spot will then be filled by another representative from the injured player’s club – 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.
“It’s a great concept for the fans and I’m sure they’ll come up with a great team,” Bennett said today.
“Rugby League people are passionate about their football and there’s plenty of knowledge out there.
“A few might find out just how hard it can be to put a team together but I’m sure they are going to want to be involved.”
Bennett also gave his seal of approval to the ‘double try’ concept that will be pioneered in the Harvey Norman All Stars game, saying: “It is really going to challenge both teams in a pressure situation.”
There are limited tickets still available for the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars game on February 13.
Tickets can be purchased through Ticketek outlets, on 132 849 or www.ticketek.com.au.
Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars Rule Changes and broadcast innovations
» The match will be played in 20-minute quarters with unlimited interchange
» Quarter and three-quarter breaks will be taken on the field (five minutes)
» The double try or eight-point try: Once a try is scored, the captain of the scoring team can advise the referee that the team will forgo the conversion and opt for the chance to have an additional play instead. Once a team decides to attempt the eight-point try, both sides can interchange to bring on offensive or defensive players. Play will then resume anywhere between the 10 and 20 metre mark and in line with where the try was scored. There is no kicking allowed in the extra play – the attacking team must break the defensive line to score. Any stoppage other than a try will see the match restart with a kick-off from halfway.
» The match will include four referees (only two on the field at any time) with spectators able to hear the on-field comments from referees at selected times during the match
» Television viewers will have the chance to get inside the team-talk and hear what the coaches say with Wayne Bennett and Neil Henry agreeing to wear microphones during ‘quarter’ and ‘three-quarter’ breaks
» The trainers from both teams will wear microphones throughout the game, providing further behind-the-scenes insights into the coaching strategies of both sides
» The video referee will provide feedback to the Channel Nine commentary team following a video referee decision
» Players will be fitted with GPS devices tracking their movements throughout the match
» Players on the bench will be commenting on the Channel Nine broadcast throughout the match