The Indigenous All Stars clash against the Aoteroa Maori All Stars is just over two months away, marking the first time the historic clash with take place in Melbourne.
It’s been two years since the Indigenous All Stars last took to the field after taking a hiatus in 2017, with Indigenous athletes Johnathan Thurston and Sam Thaiday both hanging up the boots since the last clash.
But while the clash has lost legends, it gives the younger generation of Indigenous athletes an opportunity to represent their people, their culture and inspire a younger generation, and become role models.
Versatility will be the order of the day, with a lack of forwards meaning some of the outside backs will have to shift into the back-row, akin to Jamal Idris starting in the second-row for the side in back-to-back years.
The likes of Jesse Ramien and Jack Bird are certainly strong enough to move into the forwards for a shortened period, and lighten the load on a thinned our forward pack.
Greg Inglis is expected to captain the side following Thurston’s retirement, though after losing the Australian Kangaroos’ captaincy after a drink driving charge, his role may be under a black cloud.
Premiership winning duo Latrell Mitchell and Jake Friend will miss the clash, with the World Club Challenge against Wigan taking place in England two days after the clash.
Despite a lack of first-grade minutes in 2018, Kyle Turner is a strong chance of being selected due to the lack of middle third options in the squad. Another option is for Tyrone Roberts to come onto the field in the hooking role, shifting Nathan Peats into the lock role.
Likely debutant Cody Walker will be electric in the halves partnering Ash Taylor in the halves, while sparking up his club combination with Greg Inglis and possibly Alex Johnston on the rep stage. Young Brisbane forward David Fifita is another set to make his first-grade rep debut, joining Brisbane team mates James Roberts and Jack Bird in the squad.
The Indigenous All Stars will take on the Maori All Stars at AAMI Park on February 15th, in what will sure to be an exciting new chapter written into the All Stars history book.
Potential Indigenous All-Stars Lineup
1. Bevan French/Alex Johnston
2. Josh Addo-Carr
3. Greg Inglis (c)
4. James Roberts
5. Dane Gagai
6. Cody Walker
7. Ash Taylor
8. Andrew Fifita
9. Nathan Peats
10. Ryan James
11. Joel Thompson
12. Adam Elliot
13. Tyrone Peachey
14. Jack Bird
15. Leilani Latu
16. David Fifita
17. Will Chambers/Blake Ferguson
18. Tyrone Roberts
19. Kyle Turner
20. Jesse Ramien