It was the game that inspired Josh Addo-Carr to overcome his setbacks and become one of the most exciting players in the NRL.
As he prepares to represent the Indigenous All Stars for the first time in the February 15 clash with New Zealand Maori, Addo-Carr has revealed the impact of being involved in the 2011 fixture on the Gold Coast.
Addo-Carr played for the NSW Indigenous Under 16s team against their Queensland counterparts in the curtain-raiser to the second All Stars match.
The Melbourne Storm speedster, who was then a spindly 15-year-old, is the only member of that team to become an NRL star.
"I loved every minute of it," Addo-Carr told NRL.com of the experience. "It was very special, the game and just the whole week in camp. We learned a lot about our culture and Australian history.
"Ever since playing in that game, I have always wanted to play in the All Stars. I remember witnessing the war cries and thinking I wanted to do that one day. I am very passionate and very proud of my culture."
All of Josh Addo-Carr's tries of 2018
The drive to succeed resulted in Addo-Carr making his State of Origin debut for NSW in 2018. That feat was bookended by grand final appearances in each of the last two Telstra Premiership seasons.
It's well documented that the path to success was not an easy one for a player who had been in the South Sydney and Cronulla systems before being thrown a debut by Wests Tigers in 2016. He played the first nine matches of his NRL career at the Tigers.
After dropping out of high school in Year 9, rugby league helped fill the gaps in Addo-Carr's education and he recently completed studies to become a youth worker and teachers' aide.
"Maybe after footy I will be helping little kids out as much as I can," he said. "I have been through a lot and I just want to give back to kids and show them the right way.
"I can use my rugby league platform to tell my story. That is what I am passionate about."
Addo-Carr knows first-hand the positive influence an event like All Stars can have.
It is why the 23-year-old was so enthusiastic about taking part in coaching sessions with the NSW Origin squad in Armidale last weekend and why he is so passionate about representing the Indigenous All Stars in the February 15 match at AAMI Park.
"I thought that one day I want to play in that team," he said. "It is great for the game, getting these kids inspired to make NRL and be the best player and the best person the way they can.
"That is how I see it, and it is how I saw it when I was that age."
While some have questioned the decision to take the All Stars concept to Melbourne, Addo-Carr believes it will provide an opportunity to broaden the appeal of the game.
Since joining the Storm in 2017, he has developed friendships with Melbourne Demons stars Neville Jetta, Jeff Garlett and Jay Kennedy-Harris and said the indigenous AFL community would get behind the match.
"I reckon it will do very well in Melbourne," he said. "There is a lot of Indigenous AFL people and this is a great opportunity to grow our sport. There is also a lot of Maori people down here so I think there will be a great turnout."
I remember witnessing the war cries and thinking I wanted to do that .. I am very passionate and very proud of my cultureJosh Addo-Carr
Addo-Carr also believes the introduction of a Maori team, which is expected to include Storm team-mates Jesse Bromwich and Brandon Smith and former Melbourne players Jordan McLean and Tohu Harris, will add new life into the concept.
"I think there is a lot more passion than there was in the NRL All Stars side. I know as an Indigenous person I am very proud to represent my culture and I know that the Maori players are very proud to represent their culture," he said.
"That is a very special thing, and it will be a great opportunity to show both our cultures to the world and show our traditional dances or war cries."
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