NRL Rd 5 - Bulldogs v Roosters
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 15: Joseph Manu of the Roosters evades the tackle of Morgan Harper of the Bulldogs during the round five NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Sydney Roosters at Bankwest Stadium on June 15, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Sydney Roosters star Joseph Manu has been sensationally banned by his club from playing for the Maori All Stars in Saturday night's season-opening representative clash against the Indigenous All Stars.

It's understood Manu - one of, if not the best centre in the game - was invited to play for the Maori team and was more than keen to take his jersey.

Born in Hamilton, Manu played for the Maori All Stars last year and has represented New Zealand on five occasions, having played 114 games for the Sydney Roosters in the NRL, including two grand final wins in 2018 and 2019.

His form has gone to another level in the past 24 months, however, the Roosters reportedly withdrew him from the game given he hasn't played since being knocked out by Latrell Mitchell in Round 24 last year.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 27: Referee Ashley Klein speaks with Joseph Manu of the Roosters after receiving a high tackle from Latrell Mitchell of the Rabbitohs during the round 24 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium on August 27, 2021, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

It ended Manu's season with a cheek injury, while Mitchell will still be suspended for the first two weeks of the season.

Speaking to Wide World of Sports, Maori Rugby League Board chairman John Devonshire said the Roosters blocked him from playing and that "it feels like the clubs run the game in Australia."

"He was very keen, being a proud Maori lad, but the Roosters said no, which is disappointing," Devonshire told Nine.

“I can understand their point of view - he got hurt in the game last year and hasn't played since he fractured his cheekbone.

“But looking from over here in New Zealand, it seems that the clubs run the game in Australia.

“This game is so culturally important to both the Maoris and the Indigenous players - there are some things that are special on the league calendar.

"But the clubs seem to think that they are bigger than the game and that is a shame.”

The game will be played on Saturday evening at Parramatta's CommBank Stadium - the first time it has been held in Sydney. Team lists will be confirmed this afternoon.