Indigenous All Stars team announced

Greg Inglis will reclaim the dream that was denied earlier this year through injury when he joins the likes of Preston Campbell, Scott Prince, Johnathan Thurston, Jamie Soward and Nathan Merritt and Australian Test stars Sam Thaiday, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Willie Tonga in the 2011 Indigenous All Stars side, named in Brisbane today.

The outstanding line-up for the second Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars, on February 12 at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast, also includes newcomers Matt Bowen and Ryan James in a team that has captured the imagination of sports fans across the country and inspired Indigenous communities.

NRL Chief Executive, David Gallop, ARL Indigenous Council Chairman, William ‘Smiley’ Johnstone and Indigenous All Stars coach, Laurie Daley joined Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, at the State Library of Queensland’s Kuril Dhagun centre for today’s announcement, which also saw the NRL and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation unveil a new partnership that will help deliver reconciliation initiatives to communities throughout Australia.

Indigenous All Stars coach, Laurie Daley, today named the following team for the 2011 Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars:

Player

Club

Preston Campbell (c)

Gold Coast Titans

Nathan Merritt

South Sydney Rabbitohs

Willie Tonga

North Queensalnd 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-Warringah 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

Australian and Broncos prop Sam Thaiday received the highest number of votes from fans with more than 10,000 people lodging their Indigenous All Stars team since mid-September to reveal the stellar list of players announced today.

“Once again the fans certainly have delivered a formidable side, with the players announced today some of the most exciting and inspirational talent in Rugby League,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said.

“The Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars has been embraced by Australians and the community spirit conveyed at the inaugural game this year was remarkable.

“The fans now have the task of selecting the opposing NRL All Stars side and with the rules stating the team must include one player from each of the 16 NRL clubs, this is definitely not an easy undertaking.”

ARL Indigenous Council Chairman, Mr William ‘Smiley’ Johnstone said today: “Every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander player dreams of the day when they can represent their people.

“For the 20-players named this dream has come true and they will all be playing with the pride of their people.”

Rugby League fans were responsible for selecting the majority of the 2011 Indigenous All Stars team to join captain Preston Campbell for a match that brings together the game’s best athletes and celebrates its cultural diversity.

“The public has selected a first class team with the squad announced today and we are definitely in the best position to defend our title at Skilled Park in February next year,” Indigenous All Stars coach, Laurie Daley said.

“It is now an exciting countdown to the match, where we will wait to see just who the fans will select in the opposing NRL All Stars.

“No doubt, come February 12, 2011 we will see some incredible skill on the field, but beyond this, we will also contribute to a range of community programs that are making a real difference in Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities across Australia and that are the direct result of the All Stars concept.”

Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, said today the announcement of the Indigenous All Stars team was an exciting milestone in the lead up to the 2011 game which for the first time will feature a free two-day Bumehla Festival at Broadwater Parklands from February 11-12.

“This will be one of the stand-out events on our calendar for 2011,” Ms Bligh said.

“The All Stars captures Australia’s enthusiasm for Rugby League, and in particular, the imagination of our Indigenous youth, while contributing back to the community.

“I am also looking forward to seeing the Gold Coast host the Bumehla Festival which will bring the inspiration and motivation of the All Stars to a different group of people through Indigenous arts, entertainment, heritage and sporting activities,” she said.

The 2011 Indigenous All Stars team will again partner with the Federal Government’s ‘Learn. Earn. Legend!’ initiative which encourages young Indigenous Australians to stay in school and aspire to success in the workplace.

“This game goes well beyond 80 minutes of football, it is a match that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people embrace because it celebrates our culture, something that gives all the boys great pride,” Indigenous All Stars member, Greg Inglis, said.

“The community focus of the match means it will have a benefit that goes well beyond what takes place on the field.”

The NRL will also work with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation, an organisation established on the first anniversary of the Apology to Australia’s Indigenous peoples, to foster healing in Indigenous communities, through a new partnership that will see the All Stars promote practical and community based healing initiatives throughout Australia.

“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation is pleased to be partnering with the All Stars to support the development of successful models to address healing for Indigenous peoples,” said Foundation Chair, Florence Onus.

“Indigenous people today are on a journey to come to terms with the grief caused by events of the past and this partnership will help them do that and move forward in a positive and productive way.”

The Australian public has once again shown its support for the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars match to be played at Skilled Park on February 12, 2011 with just over 5,000 tickets remaining for sale. Tickets are available through Ticketek outlets, on 132 849 or www.ticketek.com.au. New Zealand customers can call 0800 842 538 or +61 132 849.

Rugby League fans can continue to have their say on the teams by voting for the 16 publicly-voted players in the NRL All Stars side at www.nrl.com/allstars.

The first round of voting for the NRL All Stars is open until December 28 and fans are being asked to select two backs and two forwards from each of the 16 NRL clubs to form a shortlist of 64 players. NRL All Stars coach Wayne Bennett will then indicate which positions he wants each of the 64 players to be considered for, as well as outlining the make-up of the bench positions.

Please note: Justin Hodges was withdrawn from selection for the 2011 Indigenous All Stars by his club who felt that after missing the entire 2010 season, would not have been in a position to play so early in the year.