Indigenous All Stars v Maori All Stars Men's
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 12: The Indigenous All-Stars perform an Indigenous dance before the match between the Men's Indigenous All Stars and the Men's Maori All Stars at CommBank Stadium on February 12, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Three weeks out from the first New Zealand-held All Stars clash, and the Maori outfit will be desperate to retain the trophy for a fourth straight match, this time in front of a home crowd.

The Maori's have dominated the pre-season clash since changing over from the 'World All Stars', hoisting the trophy in three of their four games since 2019.

They're polar opposites to the Indigenous All Stars, the Maori side have a thin backline but are extremely strong in the forwards, rolling through the Indigenous pack in recent years.

Luckily the match is the week prior to the World Club Challenge, which means captain James Fisher-Harris will be available to lead his side in Rotorua.

There's some heavy competition for spots, with some stars set to miss out while some rookies sneak into the 20-man line-up.

Backline
Kalyn Ponga's absence is a big blow to the side, his performance for Queensland in last year's decider displaying what a rep jersey can do to the Newcastle captain.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has been training at fullback for the Warriors and will slot in at the back, while a lack of depth on the flanks means Patrick Herbert will likely be the man to shift wide and join Dallin Watene-Zelezniak on the wings.

Morgan Harper has made multiple Maori appearances now and shall again on the left edge, while Melbourne Storm centre Reimis Smith makes his long awaited return to the field.

Halves

Jahrome Hughes, if available, is the first bloke picked for the side, such is his impact. However his halves partner is a different story.

While there's a number of halves options out there, Joseph Manu stars whenever he's in the spine. While he played fullback for the Kiwis at the World Cup, Nicoll-Klokstad's presence will push Manu into the frontline.

New Zealand v Fiji - Rugby League World Cup Quarter Final
HULL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05: Joseph Manu of New Zealand looks on during Rugby League World Cup Quarter Final match between New Zealand and Fiji at MKM Stadium on November 05, 2022 in Hull, England. (Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images)

Forwards
There's zero questions about the starting props - it's Joseph Tapine and James Fisher-Harris.

Arguably the two best props in the NRL, the duo are also the last two recipients of the Preston Campbell medal, awarded to best on ground for the match.

Dolphins' recruit Kenny Bromwich will earn the left edge, while Briton Nikora's World Cup efforts will see him just pip Jordan Riki for the right side.

Jazz Tevaga will likely pack the scrum.

Bench
The Maori's have a stack more forwards than their Indigenous counterparts, so expect them to go big.

Jesse Bromwich, Jordan Riki, Corey Harawira-Naera and Royce Hunt all have their own claims to a spot, and should snare one on the pine. Erin Clark and Kodi Nikorima are the probable utilities, with at least one more on the bench.

Maori All Stars

  1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
  2. Patrick Herbert
  3. Reimis Smith
  4. Morgan Harper
  5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
  6. Joseph Manu
  7. Jahrome Hughes
  8. James Fisher-Harris (c)
  9. Brandon Smith
  10. Joseph Tapine
  11. Briton Nikora
  12. Kenneath Bromwich
  13. Jazz Tevaga
  14. Kodi Nikorima
  15. Royce Hunt
  16. Corey Harawira-Naera
  17. Jordan Riki
  18. Jesse Bromwich
  19. Erin Clark
  20. Dylan Walker