The NRL have been widely slammed for their suspension rules which will controversially see South Sydney Rabbitohs star Latrell Mitchell rubbed out of the NRL All Stars match, but allowed to play other trial matches for his club.
While the All Stars match has come under threat with the possibility of players withdrawing and clubs being against the concept, Mitchell's status in the game was rubbed out when he knocked Joey Manu out late last year against the Sydney Roosters in a firey Round 24 clash.
The six-week suspension meant Mitchell missed the Rabbitohs' finals campaign, and will miss Rounds 1 and 2 this season.
Under NRL rules, any suspension means representative fixtures are unable to be played, however, the fact it is below a Grade 3 charge means Mitchell will be able to play trial matches with the Rabbitohs against the St George Illawarra Dragons in the Charity Shield - regularly regarded as the biggest club match of the pre-season - and in South Sydney's other clash against the North Queensland Cowboys to be played in Cairns.
The decision and rules have been slammed, with the All Stars snub not set to count as one of Mitchell's matches in his suspension despite the fact he would have been a walk-up start for the number one jumper in the Indigenous team as they take on the Maori side.
Yesterday, it was reported that up to six players who would have otherwise have been picked - Kalyn Ponga, Jarome Luai, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Corey Harawira-Naera, Cody Walker and Jack Wighton - have all pulled out of the fixture.
Indigenous coach Laurie Daley said on Big Sports Breakfast on Sky Sports Radio that it would "have been special" to have Mitchell playing.
“It certainly would have been special to have Latrell as a part of it and I know he would have wanted to be part of this game but unfortunately he won’t be there,” he said.
“But I’m sure he’ll be doing something with the team throughout the week.”
The Daily Telegraph's Phil Rothfield meanwhile slammed the decision in his discussion with Daley.
“I’m really dirty that Latrell Mitchell will not be playing the Indigenous All Stars game on Saturday the 12th,” veteran NRL reporter Phil Rothfield said on Big Sports Breakfast.
“I know he did the wrong thing late last year when he knocked out Joey Manu but for the life of me I can’t understand why the NRL are allowing Latrell to play in the Charity Shield trial in Mudgee for Souths against St George but won’t allow him to play in this wonderful representative game.
“He is the highest profile player in the NRL bar none. Why would allow a guy to play in a trial but not in the All Stars? I think it’s wrong."
The match will be played at CommBank Stadium in Parramatta on Saturday, February 12.