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NRL All-Stars Preview

The NRL All Stars are here, and with it, the return of competitive rugby league for starved footy fans. The Maori and Indigenous All Stars clash has developed a special and somewhat fiery place in the pre-season as players represent their culture, and this year’s edition – the first to ever be held in Sydney – promises to be no different.  

Despite a handful of withdrawals after disrupted pre-seasons, there will still be plenty of talent on display as the curtain gets brought down on the new season.  

While the Indigenous team has mountains of strike in their backline, they look to be bullied up front by the Maori team, which will create an intriguing dynamic in terms of field position and territory against razzle dazzle.  

The Indigenous team are led by Nicho Hynes and Braydon Trindall in the halves, which will excite Sharks fans, who get their first look at the potential new halves combination for the season ahead. 

They are joined by William Kennedy at fullback, who had a breakout 2021 with 14 tries and 14 try assists from his 24 games, to go with almost 150 metres per game. Add that to Hynes, who was sensational at the back for the Melbourne Storm – although now needs to translate that to the halves – and you get what is an exciting spine. Add that to the try-scoring powers of Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Josh Addo-Carr – who has been named captain – on the wings, and you have a team who should be capable of scoring plenty of points. 

David Fifita will only add to that, however, a middle third led by Andrew Fifita and Ryan James, and backed up by Jamayne Taunoa-Brown and Josh Kerr leaves plenty of be desired when you consider what they are up against. 

The Maori team will be led by Raiders’ brute Joseph Tapine and Penrith premiership-winning Dally M pop of the year up ront in James Fisher-Harris, while the all representative backline of Kenneath Bromwich and Briton Nikora slot into the second-row, with all that backed up off the bench by the barnstorming Royce Hunt and brickwall-breaking TC Robati. 

The Maori’s problem, however, will be where the points come from. Jordan Rapana is one of the best ball-runners in the competition, but not a natural fullback, while Chanel Harris-Tavita and Kodi Nikorima struggled to spark the Warriors – who narrowly escaped the bottom four on last year’s premiership table – to any great heights out of the halves.  

Add that to the fact the Maori’s have been forced to play Morgan Harper and Patrick Herbert – both predominantly centres – on the wing – and it creates questions not only over their ability to score enough points to go with the Indigenous side, but also their defensive combinations and whether they will be able to shut out the dangerous Indigenous attack. 

On the surface, the side with the better forward pack – especially at this point of the pre-season – should take the chocolates. They will simply spend too much time on the ball to not rack up the points, and the Indigenous – save for moments of brilliance – could be in for a long night on the back foot. 

Maori All Stars by 10. 

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