NRL All-Stars squads named

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

In their annual clash on the rugby league field before the NRL season begins, squads have now been confirmed for both the Indigenous All Stars and NZ Māori All Stars clash on February 12.

As per, the NZ Māori men's side sees some of the usual stars out of the squad, including Kalyn Ponga, Brandon Smith and captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

As NZMRL chairman John Devonshire told Te Ao Māori News at the weekend, one door closes, another opens allowing Warriors utility Jazz Tevaga, Titans hooker Erin Clark and young guns TC Robati, Royce Hunt an opportunity. Canberra Raiders winger Jordan Rapana is in line to return to the NZ Māori jersey for the first time since 2008.

It's a whānau affair for Warriors and Kiwis playmaker Kodi Nikorima, with brother Jayden Nikorima joining the squad. Jayden hasn't played first-grade rugby league since being sacked by the Sydney Roosters in 2017 and is even under consideration to play in the season's opening round for the Storm.

The NZ Māori All-Stars Squad. Credit: Facebook/NRL-National Rugby League.

Briton Nikora, James Fisher-Harris, Kevin Proctor and Kenny Bromwich will bring their experience to help get their NZ Māori teammates the win in the fourth Harvey Norman All Stars clash.  

“I’m so thankful to have a group of players who are honoured to represent their culture," said Māori All-Stars coach David Kidwell.

"This is such an important week for the game and our players recognise this. They will all do what they can to represent themselves, their whanau and their iwi.”

On the opposing side, the Indigenous Men's team are also without some of their star power with South Sydney fullback Latrell Mitchell ruled out through suspension, Raiders halfback Jack Wighton, and 2021 captain Cody Walker unavailable.

However, coach Laurie Daley has been able to call on Sharks recruit Nicho Hynes who had a breakout 2021 season with the Melbourne Storm, North Queensland Cowboys winger Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Brisbane Broncos back Selwyn Cobbo.

The Indigenous side retain most of their experienced players like prop powerhouse Andrew Fifita, Rabbitohs try-scoring machine Alex Johnston and Titans second-rower David Fifita.

The Indigenous All Stars squad. Credit: Facebook / NRL - National Rugby Championship.

In the Māori Ferns squad, 2021 All-Star MVP Raecene MacGregor will again line up in the halves, despite not having an NRLW contract for this year. Former skipper Krystal Rota will make her return to the green and white jersey after joining the Newcastle Knights and relocating to Australia. 

Roosters halfback Corban Baxter will captain the Māori Ferns while Eels trio Botille Vette-Welsh, Kennedy Cherrington and Nita Maynard, Zahara Temara (Roosters), Rona Peters (Titans) will back up after being apart of last years 24-0 win, while the evergreen Lavinia Gould will be looking to make her NRL All-Stars debut 22 years after making first appearing on the world stage with the Black Ferns Sevens team in Hong Kong.

The NRL All-Stars clash will take place at Commbank Stadium in Parramatta, Sydney, on February 12.