Indigenous coach Laurie Daley was given an early Christmas present by rugby league fans when they picked him a backline fitting of its All Star status, now all he wants in the new year is for his players to be fit for the February 4 blockbuster.
The Indigenous All Stars backline is brimming with excitement machines; it contains two Golden Boot winners (Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis) and last year’s leading NRL try-scorers (Ben Barba & Nathan Merritt).
It’s an imposing attacking force, one which Daley is desperately eager to see get through the preseason unscathed.
“The squad has lots of experience and talented players,” Daley told NRL.com.
“Hopefully they get through preseason training; there is still a month to go, so hopefully there is all good news on the horizon in terms of no late changes. The last couple of years there has always been a couple of pull-outs, hopefully that won’t be the case this year.
“All the players that are selected want to be a part of it and are quite excited about the challenge that is in front of them.”
That challenge is set to be determined by the fans, with the first round of voting on the NRL All Stars team set to close on Friday, January 23. The final round of voting will commence on the January 27, where fans will have the arduous task of selecting 16 players out of list of 64.
But Daley knows whoever the fans pick in the NRL All Stars side is sure to provide stiff opposition, and is expecting the March 4 showdown to again be an incredible rugby league spectacle.
“If you like your football to be entertaining and tough at the same time, this is what this game is all about,” he said.
“For a season opener it is of the highest quality and I’m sure this one will be no different.
“It’s all about celebrating the wonderful history of Indigenous players in our great game and putting back into the community.”