It's official: NRL unveils All Star concept

The first ever National Rugby League All Stars game will kick-off the 2010 Rugby League season with a unique celebration of Rugby League’s diversity and of its role in the community.<br><br>NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, today joined Kiwi captain Benji Marshall, 2008 Ken Stephen Medal winner Preston Campbell, Australian halfback Johnathan Thurston and Rugby League Indigenous Council Chairman Smiley Johnstone to launch the first ever Indigenous All Stars v NRL All Stars team at the Gold Coast’s Skilled Park on February 13, 2010.<br><br>Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also sent his message of support for the match, which will mark the second anniversary of Australia’s apology to the Stolen Generation.<br><br>The match will mark the first time that the public will actually select teams and will see Dragons coach Wayne Bennett in charge of the All Stars side with the Cowboys’ Neil Henry coaching the Indigenous team.<br><br>“This is shaping up as one of the most spectacular showcases of playing talent the game has seen,” Mr Gallop said.<br><br>“Stars from every club will be represented in an atmosphere that will be unlike anything we have seen before.”<br><br>The All Stars concept was born from the passion of Ken Stephen Medal winner Preston Campbell, who wanted to build on the emotion that surrounded the Dream Time team that he captained during the Centenary World Cup opening ceremony.<br><br>“It meant a lot to all of us,” he said.<br><br>“The boys enjoyed playing together but the recognition and pride it brought to Indigenous communities was what really made it special.<br><br>“This match is a chance to bring everyone in the game even closer and it will be a lot of fun.”<br><br>Prime Minister Rudd said the All Stars game was a perfect way to capture the spirit of his apology to the Stolen Generation:<br><br>“The match reflects the way we can all work together to provide inspiration and opportunity in the years ahead.<br><br>“It is a celebration that should engage not only every Rugby League fan but the entire community.”<br><br>Proceeds from the All Stars game will be managed through Rugby League’s One Community programme and will directly target grass-roots Indigenous activities.<br><br>Mr Gallop added that the match reflected a game-wide commitment to celebrating the role of Indigenous athletes and of Rugby League’s community programmes:<br><br>“This game has attracted support from the Queensland Government and is the result of the enthusiasm and commitment of the NRL’s 16 clubs and the players who will represent them.<br><br>“Players will have the chance to really showcase their skills in the match and over a week of activities that will demonstrate how far Rugby League reaches into the community and of the important role it plays.<br><br>“And the fans will have the chance to decide which players they want to see play.<br><br>“All 16 clubs will be a part of Community Carnival activity in the lead-up to the match.<br><br>“The Community Carnival has formed an incredible tradition in Rugby League and the All Stars game will add an entirely new dimension.”<br><br>Details of how the public can vote for teams will be unveiled in coming weeks.<br><br>The All Stars sides will each boast 20-man squads, with 16 positions voted by the public through www.nrl.com. <br><br>The Rugby League Indigenous Council will select four of its team positions and, in recognition of his service to the Indigenous community and his passion for the Indigenous All Stars concept, Preston Campbell has been named ahead of an array of Premiership talent as the first player chosen and captain. <br><br>The public will decide 16 players with no restriction on which club the players are from, after which the Indigenous Council will announce its three remaining nominations to complete the 20-man squad.<br><br>The NRL All Stars team will include the Kangaroos Captain and Vice-Captain and the New Zealand Captain and Vice-Captain with the remaining 16 positions determined by the public vote. The prerequisite for the NRL All Stars is that one player from each NRL team must feature in the 16 voted by the public.