I admit, at first I was a huge fan of the ‘All Stars’ concept. The money and attention it raises to help underprivileged indigenous Australians made it a brilliant occasion.
The two sides were announced yesterday and unfortunately I feel the concept is being undermined.
First of all, to call the “World All Stars” as such rather than the NRL All Stars is incorrect. Sam Burgess aside, every member of the All Stars played in the NRL last season.
Sam Burgess will sign an NRL contract with South Sydney, thus every player within the squad is an NRL registered player.
Not that many Super League players would make the cut, but they fact they were not considered in voting proves that this is a side made up of the NRL’s best talent, not the world’s best talent.
Secondly, with all due respect to Lachlan Maranta and Nene McDonald, they do not belong in such a supposedly elite squad.
I don’t want to denounce either player, both are very talented first graders. McDonald especially looks to be a real hot prospect for the future, but there is no way that he is anywhere near the top 25 players in the competition.
I realise that those eligible for the Indigenous All Star side were not considered for “World” All Star selection, but Inglis, Thurston, Thaiday and Bird would all make a side made up of the NRL’s best.
I also understand that every NRL side has to be represented in the All Star side, and Greg Bird is the obvious Titans representative, but Nene McDonald’s career to date does not warrant selection.
Nor does Lachlan Maranta, who was chosen by his club coach Wayne Bennett to play in the game.
The fact that Corey Parker, Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt were overlooked for Maranta leads me to suggest that Bennett did not want to risk one of his stars.
Maranta didn’t play a part in the Grand Final after missing out on the 17.
A reserve grader holds a position in the so called “All Stars”.
If this was a genuine All Stars side, James Tedesco would be playing, as would Corey Parker.
Robbie Farah has been chosen to represent the Tigers, despite the fact Cameron Smith is captaining the side.
If Tedesco is not available, Aaron Woods should have played rather than naming a lock (Paul Gallen) in the front row.
RTS and Simon Mannering are in the run on side. Both are representatives of the Warriors and both warrant selection, but why is Tedesco not involved at fullback, if Mannering was going to be selected?
Don’t get me wrong, this is a good side. Any side containing the likes of RTS, Morris, Radradra, Graham, Smith, Gallen, and Burgess, is a fair side to say the least.
In all honesty, this game means more to the indigenous players and fans than anyone supporting the World All Stars.
These players are representing their people, their families, their culture.
World All Stars players are playing a pre-season game against pretty handy opposition.
This isn’t a shot at those playing for the World All Stars. I have no doubt they are training and playing to win, but you can’t tell me Sam Burgess wants to win this game as much as Thurston.
Wayne Bennett, judging by his coaching selections, doesn’t really want to win either.
As an aside, I’d like to see how much say was given to clubs regarding player availability. Perhaps the Tigers blocked Tedesco and Woods from being made available, yet were willing to risk Farah.
Some sides have far more players taking part that other clubs, and thus are taking on far more risk.
For instance the Broncos have Thaiday and Maranta playing whereas the Sharks have Barba, Fifita, Graham and Gallen.
I still like this concept, but the way sides are made up really needs an overhaul to ensure the best of the best play, not a token team selection to fulfil a ridiculous criteria.
Mixed Messages In Proposal
Shane Richardson’s long awaited plan to overhaul the game has suggested Aussie Kangaroo tours of the UK and France could be put back on the agenda.
As a child of the early 90’s, I remember waking up ridiculously early to see the Kangaroos take on Great Britain, and I’d love to see a return to the format.
Unfortunately we’ve heard players and officials complaining re player burnout for years.
I don’t think a three week tour half way across the other side of the world would be well received by exhausted players at the end of the season.
Also recommended was that players under the age of 19 be blocked from playing at NRL level to ensure their bodies and minds aren’t overawed by the physicality.
I understand the thinking behind this but I’ve always been of the opinion that if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. (within reason)
So which is it? Player welfare or suggesting they play more games in an already supposedly over crowded season?