You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Maori All Stars captains Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Krystal Rota and Adam Blair.

Maori co-captain Adam Blair insists his All Stars outfit will match the expected high level of intensity from the Indigenous side from the opening whistle on Saturday night.

A major talking point in the Maori All Star camp this week has been their poor start to last year's clash in Melbourne.

Maori coach David Kidwell has made it his mission to ensure his men start the game at Cbus Super Stadium with their minds squarely on the job.

Blair admitted his side were overwhelmed by the occasion last year, caught up in the emotion of finally getting the chance to play for their culture.

Brothers debate who is the real boss

They let the night get the better of them as the Indigenous All Stars won 34-14.

"I guess for us we had the opportunity to play in this and we were in a bit of awe about the whole thing and we stepped back and watched the game go by," Blair said.

"But this time around we understand what it takes, we've seen how it works and for us it's about going out there and getting it done.

"Like any team in any game you play you want to start good and build off the back of that.

"It's about just being prepared to do whatever it takes for us to start fast."

Maori support no anthem at All Stars

And while it may have been inadvertent, Kidwell stoked the fire within his co-captain at the pre-game press conference on Friday when he casually let slip the 33-year-old Warriors front-rower was edging towards retirement.

"I've known Adam since he was a 16-year-old kid down at the Melbourne Storm so I've seen his progression not only as a player but as a person and he has really grown into a massive family man," Kidwell said.

"He is now at the end of his career but for him to be able to co-captain the Maori side I know how much passion he has and how proud he is to be here."

That off-the-cuff comment raised the eyebrow of Blair, a point which both Indigenous captain Joel Thompson and coach Laurie Daley later joked may come back to haunt their team tomorrow.

Coming off a tough year at the Warriors, Blair knows he has a point to prove in 2020.

"I still feel really good. I understand I am not far off it [retirement] but I still feel really good and excited to be playing rugby league," he said.

Maori co-captains Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Adam Blair.
Maori co-captains Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Adam Blair. ©NRL Photos

"It's really humbling and honoured to do this [co-captain the Maori All Stars] not only for myself but all my family and our tribes and people back home.

"I've still got a couple of years left. It would be nice to go around again."

After enjoying a week full of community engagements, cultural lessons and interactions with the Indigenous team, Blair said the NRL should look to take next year's game to New Zealand to further enhance the cross-culture concept.

"It's given us an opportunity to represent our people. I know every single Maori person in the NRL would love to be part of this week," Blair said.

"Especially the boys that live in Australia, they don't get to indulge in the culture as much as I get to as I live in New Zealand now.

"I would love to keep this going and hopefully one day bring it back home and be able to showcase our culture to the Indigenous boys in the NRL and everyone watching in the world."

Kidwell agreed that the fans in New Zealand would embrace the All Stars concept and hoped the Maoris could play host to the Indigenous teams in the near future.

Maori moved by special Indigenous Welcome to Country

"We've learnt a bit about their culture here. We've shown a bit of our culture to the Indigenous people and how far our culture has come and where it can go," Kidwell said.

"I know the whole of New Zealand would get behind this concept.

"What we've loved about this is all the players from the Maori side have really embraced the concept, the community engagements, the youth summit, just to be able to let those people know these people are role models, they're actually good men and for them to be able to see them in a different light than on TV.

"While we're connected with our own culture it’s also about learning about the Indigenous culture and their stories.

"If you had of been in that room last night there was a lot of passion for both sides, that just makes a really good formula for what is going to happen tomorrow night."

Get your tickets to see the best of the NRL’s Indigenous and Mãori players going head to head at Cbus Super Stadium on February 22

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Premier Partner

Media Partners

Major Partners

VIEW ALL PARTNERS