#Top10Tuesday: All Stars moments
Friday night's All Stars game is only the fifth in the contest's short history, but already the contest between the Indigenous All Stars and the NRL All Stars have produced some classic moments. Here are 10 of the best.
1. Preston Campbell and Darren Lockyer lead out two brand new teams
There could be no more fitting leaders for the inaugural All Stars sides in 2010 than Preston Campbell – the NRL player behind the concept – and Kangaroos skipper Darren Lockyer. Titans star Campbell – the 2001 Dally M Player of the Year – was one of the most popular players in the NRL and inspired the contest on the Gold Coast, becoming the obvious choice to lead the Indigenous All Stars team, while Lockyer had already achieved everything in the game and was a fitting skipper for a team boasting star players from each club in the NRL. Campbell would bow out of the game a year later, with the Preston Campbell Medal being rewarded to the All Stars game Man of the Match in future years.
2. Wendell Sailor farewells rugby league in style
Rugby league has produced few bigger personalities than Wendell Sailor, so it was fitting that 'Del grabbed the spotlight early in the first All Stars contest. Playing on the right wing for the Indigenous All Stars, Sailor swooped on a grubber in behind the NRL All Stars' defensive line to score the opening try in what was his final match in rugby league. The try celebration was first-rate as well, with Sailor grabbing a corner post and playing it like a didgeridoo as his teammates danced around him to the delight of the Gold Coast crowd.
3. Indigenous All Stars' fairytale finish
Sharp tries to NRL All Stars attacking weapons Josh Morris, Benji Marshall and Michael Jennings overturned a 10-0 half-time deficit in the inaugural All Stars match, setting up a tight finish in the final 10 minutes. But it was future Indigenous All Stars skipper Johnathan Thurston and enigmatic speedster Jamie Soward to the rescue for the sentimental favourites, with Thurston creating an overlap from well inside his own half and unleashing Soward, who ran 60 metres untouched to score the match-winner.
4. The 'bonus try' concept arrives (and goes)
Match organisers have had fun with the All Stars concept since its inception, with creative new rules designed to promote attacking footy. The first was the "bonus try" concept in 2010, wherein teams had the option of turning down a conversion and instead opting for the chance to score a second try, also worth four points. The team was given possession on the 20-metre line, with the defending side forced to make do without a fullback for the play and the attacking team not able to put in a kick. In practice the option didn't pay off for either team, with more laughs than points coming from attempts at grabbing the extra try, but the rule did make for some more entertainment in a game where the result isn't all that matters.
5. NRL All Stars show they mean business
Wayne Bennett doesn't like losing any game of footy and after going down in the first All Stars clash he got the best out of his star-studded NRL All Stars team in 2011, with his side opening up a huge 22-0 lead over the Indigenous All Stars in a sensational first-half blitz. There was no shortage of pride in the Indigenous outfit, with a superb try-saving tackle denying first-half try-scorer Akuila Uate and a mini comeback reducing the gap to 10 points, but Josh Dugan's long-range effort late in the contest capped a convincing 28-12 victory – with Dugan taking out the Preston Campbell Medal.
6. The Power Play pays off – but not how you'd expect
In 2012 a new rule was introduced to the All Stars game to shake things up – the Power Play, in which teams had the chance to reduce their opponents to 11 men for a five-minute period, once in each half. It didn't work out quite as expected. Instead, the NRL All Stars' first use of the Player Play resulted in the Indigenous All Stars grabbing a try thanks to a Johnathan Thurston chip kick for Matt Bowen, and then the Indigenous All Stars' Power Play resulted in a try to the NRL team's Luke Lewis. The bizarre situation finally went back to the script when the NRL All Stars claimed a crucial four-pointer during their second-half Power Play.
7. NRL All Stars go back-to-back
The Arthur Beetson trophy went up for grabs for the first time in 2012, honouring the rugby league Immortal who had passed away two months before the match. Ben Barba and Nathan Merritt were explosive as the Indigenous All Stars shot out to a 22-12 half-time lead, before Luke Bailey's surging effort and Dugan's Power Play try levelled things up in the second term. The teams traded tries late in the game but NRL side finished the stronger to take the win, with skipper Benji Marshall shining.
8. Merritt caps a super try
The NRL All Stars may have clinched the win in 2012 but the Indigenous team turned on the style for the game's best moment, running the ball on the last despite being just 25 metres from their own line. Chris Sandow and Ben Barba exchanged inside passes before Sandow beat two defenders and found a flying Nathan Merritt just beyond the halfway line. Merritt quickly showed why he was one of the game's best finishers, catching rival winger Jason Nightingale in two minds before bursting towards the line and touching down just inside the corner post.
9. Hat-trick heroes lead Indigenous side to victory
The All Stars game moved to Brisbane for 2013 with a bumper 41,201-strong crowd witnessing an attacking feast from the Indigenous outfit. Fresh from winning the 2012 Dally M Medal, Ben Barba scored with his first touch of the game after grubbering a loose ball ahead for himself, and he wasn't done yet. Two more tries followed, including a sensational catch on the fly from a Johnathan Thurston cross-field kick. Teammate Reece Robinson matched Barba's efforts with his own hat-trick in the second half, as the Indigenous side blew out to a comfortable 32-6 win.
10. All Stars game returns to the Gold Coast
The 10th magic moment of the All Stars contest comes this Friday night, with the match returning to the NRL schedule after a two-year wait. The rivalry is as close as they come, with the teams boasting two wins apiece and the Indigenous side enjoying a slight for-and-against advantage with 88 points compared to the NRL All Stars' 82. Thurston will lead his side for the fourth time, having played in every All Stars game so far, while Beau Scott becomes the third man to captain the NRL All Stars team. With the NRL All Stars' no-nonsense forward pack coming up against an Indigenous outfit boasting serious flair in the backline, the fifth All Stars contest is set to produce a few magic moments of its own.
Get your tickets to the game at ticketek.com.au/allstars