The NRL All Stars match will be played in Sydney for the first time during the build up to the 2022 season.
The All Stars, in its various forms over the years, has gone to Townsville, Newcastle and Melbourne when venturing away from its traditional Gold Coast home, but will make its first stop in Sydney this pre-season.
The NRL confirmed the news today, with the match to be played at CommBank Stadium in Parramatta on Saturday, February 12.
The Indigenous All Stars have always been a part of the match, but new life has been breathed into the pre-season concept with the invent of their opposition being a Maori All Star team, replacing the NRL All Stars or World All Stars as they were formerly known.
It's believed the NRL wanted the match to be played in Sydney following the removal of all games from the city for the final two months of the 2021 season in response to the coronavirus-enforced lockdown.
Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'Landys said the match was an important way to kick-off the year.
“It’s no coincidence that our season kicks off with the All Stars. You can’t imagine our game without the influence of Indigenous and Maori cultures and the leadership role our players have in the community," he said.
“We’re delighted that Sydney will have the opportunity to host these games for the first time. The All Stars features some of the most exciting men and women in the NRL and NRLW competitions and I know the event is one of the highlights of their season.”
The match will be played prior to the start of the NRLW season as well, with that kicking off on February 27, meaning there is no risk of double-up or NRLW games needing to be moved to accommodate the event.
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo also confirmed plans were in place for touch football games to be played on the same day, following the cancellation of that competition in 2021 due to coronavirus.
“All Stars week is a unique and important part of our rugby league calendar. To be able to celebrate this week in Sydney is an exciting opportunity for players and fans.” Mr Abdo said.
“The event brings communities and cultures together and helps celebrate First Nations people as well as rugby league’s authentic and powerful diversity.
“The 2022 NRL HAll Stars will feature the women’s and men’s Indigenous and Maori teams, along with the Indigenous and Maori touch football teams.”