Nigel Wall, NRL.com
Titans five-eighth and captain Scott Prince admits he feared he was going to have to watch next year’s All Stars clash from the sidelines following former South Sydney halfback Chris Sandow’s stellar 2011 NRL season.
The veteran pivot was down on form for Gold Coast in 2011, with his side slumping to the wooden spoon, while 22-year-old Sandow sparked the Rabbitohs with a series of electrifying solo performances that saw the red and green nudge the top eight.
Prince, who started at five-eighth in the first two All Stars clashes before making way for Johnathan Thurston’s shift to No.6, breathed a sigh of relief when his name was read out in coach Laurie Daley’s 20-strong squad. That he was outpolled by Sandow for the No.7 jersey and relegated to the interchange bench made no difference to his excitement at selectfor the clash at Skilled Park on February 4.
“Yeah, very proud and honoured to be selected once again – I was a little bit nervous… there was a rumour that I would miss out on this year’s team but very happy to be selected and getting the opportunity to represent my people again,” Prince told NRL.com.
Prince, who also beat out Dragons five-eighth Jamie Soward in the fans’ vote for the playmaking utility role, said he was excited at the prospect of linking with either Sandow or new Indigenous All Stars five-eighth and captain Thurston, as well as getting to play alongside Test centre Greg Inglis.
“Hopefully Greg will play… he’s been selected the last two years and he’s one player I was really looking forward to playing alongside,” Prince said.
“There’s a few newcomers in the squad and Chris Sandow is one of those – he had a fantastic 2011 season and he deserves his chance and opportunity within the team.”
Just a day after the moving memorial service for Arthur Beetson, Prince said the indigenous rugby league legend would remain in all the players’ thoughts in the lead-up to next year’s game.
“It’s a chance to represent our people and for all the community to come together and it’s a big celebration the whole week and obviously the game as well, playing in recognition for the Artie Beetson trophy, so the boys are looking forward to it and can’t wait to get out there,” he said.
The new All Stars game rules involving the ‘power play’, where the attacking side will nominate two opposition players to sit out five-minute blocks once each half, and the innovative 20/40 rule, would need careful consideration, Prince said.
“There are a couple of little rules changes that the boys are all excited about,” he said.
“I’m sure the fans will look forward to it as well… we’ll sit down and work out a bit of a plan, a bit of a strategy on how to make those rules work in our favour.”
Prince added that the opportunity to help kids at a grassroots level in the lead-up to the game was every bit as satisfying and enjoyable as mixing with the game’s elite players.
“There’s a lot of things that are exciting about it, like the chance to train and be alongside some of the greats of our game today, and also taking part in the youth summits and taking part with the kids,” Prince said.
“Getting those positive messages out there as a Learn. Earn. Legend! ambassador as well – the importance to stay in school and get a very good education so they can fulfil their dream, whether it be in sport or finding a job or even study.
“It’s a massive thing for myself and for all the boys taking part in it,” he continued. “It’s cricket season now… we just can’t wait for the footy season to get along and what better way to kick it off than the All Stars weekend?”