Indigenous All Stars voting opens today on NRL.com

Johnathan Thurston and Sam Thaiday will today ask fans to interrupt one of the most exciting Telstra Premiership Finals Series in recent history, to begin preparations for the 2011 Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars.<br><br>Thurston and Thaiday will join Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council Chairman, Mr William ‘Smiley’ Johnstone at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in Redfern at 1:15pm to launch public voting for the 2011 Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars, which this year provided a spectacular and historic springboard to the NRL season.<br><br>Fans can begin voting at NRL.com from 1pm AEST today for the 16 publicly-voted players in the 2011 Indigenous All Stars, with the list of eligible players featuring some of the best athletes in Rugby League. (The voting link will appear on the NRL.com homepage from 1pm today).<br><br>Already, the man who pioneered the All Stars concept, inaugural Indigenous All Stars captain Preston Campbell, has been guaranteed a place in the side, being automatically selected by the ARL Indigenous Council as captain after expressing a strong desire to play again.<br><br>The 20-man squad will be made up of Campbell, the 16 publicly-voted players and three remaining players to be determined by Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council selectors and Indigenous All Stars coach Laurie Daley once public voting has closed on November 10.<br><br>“The Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars is one of the most innovative and celebrated events in Rugby League’s history and the only representative match in Australian sport where the public picks the teams,” Mr Johnstone said.<br><br>“The inaugural All Stars captured the hearts and imaginations of people across Australia and saw 50,000 votes cast across the two teams.<br><br>“That passion and excitement begins again today as we launch public voting for the 2011 Indigenous All Stars team.<br><br>“The Australian public will again play a crucial role in determining those Indigenous players who will represent their people in the 2011 game and it certainly won’t be an easy task deciding who to vote for.”<br><br>The 2011 Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars will be played at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast on Saturday, February 12 – the eve of the third anniversary of the Federal Government’s National Apology to the Stolen Generations – and will, only for the second time, bring together the game’s best Indigenous and non-Indigenous players in a unique celebration of the diversity of Rugby League.<br><br>“In many ways we didn’t know what to expect from the inaugural Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said.<br><br>“Since the concept was announced we have seen the way people have embraced the All Stars and the way it has brought them together in the spirit of reconciliation and harmony.<br><br>“It is an exciting time for Rugby League as we continue building on this event, starting with public voting for the Indigenous All Stars opening at 1pm today.”<br><br>Today’s launch will be held at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in Redfern prior to an Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council meeting which will see Johnathan Thurston and Sam Thaiday join the Council to discuss the All Stars and Rugby League’s recently launched updated Reconciliation Action Plan.<br><br>As well as launching public voting, the Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council will also today confirm Preston Campbell as its automatically selected player and captain of the Indigenous All Stars team.<br><br>“It was such a proud moment to be captain of the inaugural Indigenous All Stars team,’’ Campbell said.<br><br>“I was thinking this year was going to be my only game for the Indigenous All Stars but having witnessed how much the game meant to my family and my people, I’ll be proud to wear the Indigenous jersey again.’’<br><br>The Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council in cooperation with the 16 NRL Clubs has determined a list of players eligible for the 16 publicly-voted places in the side and it is now up to the fans to decide who will take to the field in February next year.<br><br><b>Nominated players eligible for the Indigenous All Stars are:</b><br>&nbsp;<br>Albert Kelly (Sharks)<br>Anthony Mitchell (Eels)<br>Beau Champion (Rabbitohs)<br>Ben Barba (Bulldogs)<br>Ben Jones (Roosters)<br>Blake Ferguson (Raiders)<br>Brad Tighe (Panthers)<br>Brenton Bowen (Titans)<br>Carl Webb (Eels)<br>Chris Sandow (Rabbitohs)<br>Corey Norman (Broncos)<br>Cory Paterson (Knights)<br>Daine Laurie (Panthers)<br>Dane Gagai (Broncos)<br>Dane Nielsen (Storm)<br>Dylan Farrell (Rabbitohs)<br>Esikeli Tonga (Titans)<br>George Rose (Sea Eagles)<br>Greg Bird (Titans)<br>Greg Inglis (Broncos)<br>Isaac Gordon (Sharks)<br>Jamal Idris (Bulldogs)<br>Jamie Simpson (Rabbitohs)<br>Jamie Soward (Dragons)<br>Jharal Yow Yeh (Broncos)<br>Joel Moon (Warriors)<br>Joel Romelo (Bulldogs)<br>Joel Thompson (Raiders)<br>Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys)<br>Jonathan Wright (Eels)<br>Josh Hoffman (Broncos)<br>Justin Carney (Roosters)<br>Justin Hodges (Broncos)<br>Kurt Baptiste (Broncos)<br>Kurtis Lingwoodock (Broncos)<br>Luke Kelly (Storm)<br>Luke Walsh (Panthers)<br>Matt Bowen (Cowboys)<br>Maurice Blair (Storm)<br>Michael Bani (Cowboys)<br>Michael Lett (Dragons)<br>Nathan Merritt (Rabbitohs)<br>Obadiah Geia (Cowboys)<br>Reece Robinson (Raiders)<br>Rhys Wesser (Rabbitohs)<br>Robert Lui (Tigers)<br>Ryan James (Titans)<br>Sam Thaiday (Broncos)<br>Scott Prince (Titans)<br>Shannon Walker (Titans)<br>Timana Tahu (Eels)<br>Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (Raiders)<br>Travis Waddell (Raiders)<br>Willie Tonga (Cowboys)<br>Yileen Gordon (Bulldogs)<br>&nbsp;<br>Indigenous All Stars coach Laurie Daley said today: “I’m incredibly proud to be coaching the Indigenous All Stars and look forward to working with the team the fans deliver.”<br><br>“It’s going to be a tough job choosing who to vote for – the list of eligible players includes some of the best talent in Rugby League and they are all eager to represent their people, their heritage and Indigenous Australia.<br><br>“There are a lot more backs than forwards in the list of eligible players and we may look to guys like Jamal Idris and Joel Thompson to play in the forwards, so fans certainly shouldn’t be afraid to be creative and move players around a bit.”<br><br>Voting for the Indigenous All Stars will officially close at 11:59pm AEDT on Wednesday, November 10, 2010.<br><b><br>Indigenous All Stars voting overview:</b><br><br>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Fans to vote for 16 players from the eligible player list <br><br>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council selects captain as an automatic selection<br><br>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Indigenous All Stars selectors choose the three remaining players at the conclusion of public voting<br><br>·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Public voting closes at 11:59pm AEDT on Wednesday, November 10<br><br>Voting for the NRL All Stars side will commence later this year. The NRL All Stars team will automatically include the Australian and New Zealand Test captains, with 16 of the remaining positions determined by public vote and two determined by NRL All Stars selectors. The pre-requisite for the NRL All Stars is that one player from each NRL team must feature in the 16 players voted by the public.<br><br>The 2011 All Stars has already generated great interest amongst Rugby League fans, with 12,000-plus tickets sold since the game went on sale in August.<br><br>Tickets are available through Ticketek outlets, on 132 849 or <a href="http://premier.ticketek.com.au/">www.ticketek.com.au</a>. New Zealand customers can call 0800 842 538 or +61 132 849.