A collection of the game's most exciting players will get men's footy started for 2021 when the Indigenous and Maori teams meet for the Harvey Norman All Stars.
Cody Walker, Latrell Mitchell, Benji Marshall, Jack Wighton and Jarome Luai are only a handful of the big names who will proudly represent their cultures at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville on February 20.
Walker has been named as captain of the Indigenous All Stars team while Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Joe Tapine will share the Maori leadership duties.
Wet weather has blanketed Townsville for most of the week and rain is predicted for game day.
Seven new players were added to the match on Sunday after Melbourne's representatives were omitted from the game due to COVID-19 border restrictions.
The Maori side, coached by David Kidwell, are reigning champions having beaten their counterparts 30-16 last year.
They possess a dangerous mix of power, skill and athleticism and will again be tough to overcome. But the blinding speed and ad-lib attacking instincts of Laurie Daley's Indigenous squad will give them hope of reclaiming the Arthur Beetson Trophy.
Adam Gee will referee the match, with Phil Henderson and Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski the tough judges.
A capacity crowd of 25,000 is expected.
Match Highlights: Indigenous All Stars v Maori All Stars
Indigenous All Stars: No changes on game day so the squad is as per program.
Storm flyer Josh Addo-Carr was ruled out of the match on Friday with Victoria's COVID-19 border closures. The Titans' Corey Thompson is the new face in the squad.
Sharks captain Wade Graham withdrew from the initial squad due to a perforated eardrum which meant he couldn't fly. The back-rower was replaced by Manly forward Zac Saddler, who played in last year's fixture. Tyrell Fuimaono has been promoted to start.
Dynamic five-eighth Cody Walker is back after a shoulder injury ruled him out of the 2020 clash.
Latrell Mitchell will play his first game since suffering a hamstring injury for South Sydney in late August. He has been named at fullback, but coach Laurie Daley will monitor his workload. Rabbitohs teammate Alex Johnston can also capably fill the custodian's role.
Halfback Jamal Fogarty, hooker Reuben Cotter and bench players Cade Cust and Brian Kelly are set to make their All Stars debuts.
Maori All Stars: After a raft of forced replacements in the lead-up, including a late change early on game day, the final side was confirmed an hour from kick-off with no further disruption.
In the early game-day change, Raiders speedster Bailey Simonsson was ruled out with a minor leg injury and replaced by Cowboys young gun Wiremu Greig.
The side was hit hard by last Friday's border closures in Victoria with Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Reimis and Brandon Smith, Jahrome Hughes and Nelson Asofa-Solomona all ruled out of the match.
Russell Packer (Wests Tigers), Esan Marsters, Daejarn Asi and Emry Pere (North Queensland Cowboys), Issac Luke (Brisbane Broncos) and Jackson Topine (Bulldogs) have all been added to the team.
After 324 NRL games and 31 Tests for New Zealand 31 times, veteran South Sydney recruit Benji Marshall will add a Maori All Stars cap to his glittering rugby league resume.
Kidwell explains his decision to select Benji
The playmaking magician will come off the interchange with little brother Jeremy Marshall-King, while star Panthers five-eighth Jarome Luai will debut in the halves.
Titans leader Kevin Proctor withdrew from the team because of a hamstring injury, with Wests Tigers prop Zane Musgrove called up.
Raiders lynchpin Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad will represent the Maori team for the first time, taking the fullback jumper from Kalyn Ponga, who wasn't considered as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
Roosters centre Joey Manu will make his maiden All Stars appearance, having been unavailable for the past two years with his club featuring in the World Club Challenge in England. Patrick Herbert and Bailey Simonsson are other debutants.
Fullback for Indigenous is number 1 Latrell MitchellFullback for Maori is number 1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
Winger for Indigenous is number 2 Blake FergusonWinger for Maori is number 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
Centre for Indigenous is number 3 Jack WightonCentre for Maori is number 3 Joseph Manu
Centre for Indigenous is number 4 Jesse RamienCentre for Maori is number 4 Dylan Walker
Winger for Indigenous is number 5 Alex JohnstonWinger for Maori is number 5 Patrick Herbert
Five-Eighth for Indigenous is number 6 Cody WalkerFive-Eighth for Maori is number 6 Jarome Luai
Halfback for Indigenous is number 7 Jamal FogartyHalfback for Maori is number 7 Benji Marshall
Prop for Indigenous is number 8 Andrew FifitaProp for Maori is number 8 Russell Packer
Hooker for Indigenous is number 9 Reuben CotterHooker for Maori is number 9 Jeremy Marshall-King
Prop for Indigenous is number 10 Josh KerrProp for Maori is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
2nd Row for Indigenous is number 11 David Fifita2nd Row for Maori is number 11 Briton Nikora
2nd Row for Indigenous is number 12 Tyrell Fuimaono2nd Row for Maori is number 12 Jordan Riki
Lock for Indigenous is number 13 Tyrone PeacheyLock for Maori is number 13 Joseph Tapine
Interchange for Indigenous is number 14 Corey ThompsonInterchange for Maori is number 14 Issac Luke
Interchange for Indigenous is number 15 Jamayne Taunoa-BrownInterchange for Maori is number 15 Jackson Topine
Interchange for Indigenous is number 16 Cade CustInterchange for Maori is number 16 Zane Musgrove
Interchange for Indigenous is number 17 Chris SmithInterchange for Maori is number 17 Emry Pere
Reserve for Indigenous is number 18 Zac SaddlerReserve for Maori is number 18 Esan Marsters
Reserve for Indigenous is number 19 Josh CurranReserve for Maori is number 20 Daejarn Asi
Reserve for Indigenous is number 20 Brian KellyReserve for Maori is number 22 Wiremu Greig
- Referee: Adam Gee
- Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
- Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
- Senior Review Official: Henry Perenara
Cody Walker v Jarome Luai. Both intuitive, skillful five-eighths who are tailor-made for fast-placed, eyes-up play. Walker, a proud Bundjalung-Yuin man, was in sizzling touch for South Sydney last season as he set up tries galore, while Panthers gun Luai had an outstanding year in which he kept growing in confidence.
Melbourne's Brandon Smith wants to become a full-time NRL hooker, and he gave a great account of himself in the Maori No.9 jersey last year. He suffered a facial fracture early in proceedings but played on to record 177 metres, 13 runs, four line-breaks, six tackle-breaks and two tries in a match-winning 59-minute performance.
Key Timings (AEST)
- 4.00pm – Gates open
- 4.40pm – Kick-off: First quarter Indigenous Women's All-Stars v New Zealand Māori Ferns
- 5.17pm – Women's All Stars half-time
- 6.06pm – Women's All Stars full-time
- 6:50pm – Pre-game entertainment commences
- 7.10pm – Kick-off: Australian Indigenous Men's All-Stars v New Zealand Māori Kiwis
- 8.01pm – Men's All Stars half-time
- 9.07pm – Men's All Stars full-time
Transport and Parking
Walking is the best way to access the stadium precinct. The precinct is a short walk from the CBD (approx.1.2km), walk via:
- Lowths Bridge (closed to traffic from TBC for this event) – north of the Stadium
- Central Park Bike & Pedestrian Pathways – north of the Stadium
- Little Fletcher Street Bridge – south of the Stadium
Park and ride
There is a free park and ride service operating from Lou Litster Park for this event. Services will run regularly between 4pm-7pm and will recommence from 9pm for return journeys. Access to Lou Litster Park is via Brodie Street.
Please note there is NO public parking at the venue.
Townsville CBD Parking: Ample parking is available in the Townsville CBD and surrounding suburbs. Please ensure you check local parking signage.
Reid Park: Make your visit to this event easy by pre-booking a parking space at Reid Park. The car park will open at 3pm and will close at 10pm. Access via Pit Lane on Saunders Street.
Click here for full information on getting to Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
How Queensland Country Bank Stadium is reducing risk of COVID-19
- Extra cleaning and sanitisation pre-, during and post-event with a focus on high traffic areas like handrails
- Increased health and hygiene signage
- Patrons displaying COVID-19 symptoms (cough, sore throat, shortness in breath) will not be permitted
- Segmented seating zones (with dedicated staff, food and beverage and amenities to reduce contact and congestion points)
- Cashless payments for food and beverage purchase.
Ticket Inclusion Collection Locations
Ticket inclusion collection points below, only applicable to those that have purchased within those categories.
- Supporter and Try Zone Collection Point: Collect from the top of the Gate A Tail next to the Entrance Bar, closest to Aisle 122
- Terrace Club and Sky Deck Club collections can be collected upon entry to their seats.
Pre-Game Party Information
The Official All-Stars Pre-Game Party is brought to you by NRL Travel where you can meet and mingle with NRL Legends ahead of the game. The pre-game party provides you access to the Sky Deck North at Queensland Country Bank Stadium ahead of the game making it the perfect place to get excited with friends before the opening game for 2021.
Guests that have purchased the pre-game party inclusion can enter via Gate G from 2:00pm at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Sat 20 Feb 2021.
Guest Names will be on a list for the pre-game party, these will be as per your Ticketmaster booking. Please bring your ID.
You will also require your game ticket to access the venue.
- Event starts: 2:15pm
- Event wrap-up: 3:45pm (you can begin making your way to your seats once gates open at 4pm which will be at stadium staff direction).
Witness the best of the best from both sides of the Tasman. As athletes and as people from the First Nations.
Hear us. See us.
Be there as cultures collide.
Tickets are available at NRL Tickets.