Chambers anointed future Indigenous leader
He's on the verge of establishing himself as a permanent fixture in the Queensland and Kangaroos backlines and Storm centre Will Chambers is also the man to lead the next generation of Indigenous stars coming into the game.
That's the opinion of Indigenous All Stars half Jamie Soward who was called into the squad following the withdrawal of Johnathan Thurston and has spent much of the week getting to know Chambers and other new faces he will play with for the first time on Saturday night.
Selected ahead of Justin Hodges for the Anzac Test last year, Chambers is all but certain to assume Hodges' centre position for the Maroons in 2016. He will play just his second All Stars game against the World All Stars on Saturday but with the likes of Thurston, Greg Inglis and Sam Thaiday towards the end of their careers, Soward says it is Chambers' work off the field that has impressed him the most.
"One person that has stood out is Will Chambers," Soward said.
"I hadn't had much to do with him, I'd played against him a lot but coming into camp I had a few conversations with him and you can see he's going to be carrying on the torch for the next lot of young Indigenous players coming through.
"If I was to pick anyone I'd say Will and then you've got the Tyrone Peacheys and the Jack Wightons.
"All these guys are coming up and still learning the game but I'm sure once they get their first grade experience they'll turn into leaders themselves."
Born in the Northern Territory and due to turn 28 on the eve of this year's Origin Series, Chambers was unsure of his position as a leader but emphasised the importance of All Stars week to he and his family.
"Without 'Johno' being here and 'Hodgo' moving on now I'm a bit older and I'm here but I don't see myself as any different," Chambers said.
"I'm not a leader that's for sure, I just go about my business and enjoy my footy and it's just good to be around the boys and be in their company again.
"It was my first year last year. I'd been a part of a few camps and Dean Widders and that had been pushing it and it is something that I really believe in.
"It means a lot to myself and a lot to our people. It's something that I always look forward to and I can't wait to get out there on Saturday night and be a part of it again."
Soward was a member of the inaugural Indigenous All Stars team in 2010 and like many players this week has expressed his dismay at the suggestion that the All Stars game was in any doubt in future.
He said an address by ARL Commission chairman John Grant on Wednesday had gone a long way to allaying any concerns of the match folding and that six years on he has a greater understanding of what the game represents.
"When this game first started it was exciting for everyone but as you get older you start to realise the true meaning behind the game and how important it is not just to fans but to the Indigenous players and also the Indigenous people," Soward said.
"The Indigenous All Stars game really kicks off the season and I'd be very disappointed personally if the NRL changed it and I know a lot of the people would be if they changed it to anything else.
"Now the guys we've got leading the charge with 'JT', Hodgo has just retired, and then carrying the torch in 'GI', those guys are probably three of the best players in the game so to take this game away from those guys would be shattering to them and also the Indigenous community.
"We had John Grant speak last night and he was very confident that the game is not up for discussion and that they are going to enter into a new contract.
"As far as we're concerned as players and the Indigenous community the game will be around hopefully for the next five, 10, 15 years."