NRL Tips expert Steve Green returns for another action-packed season in NRL 2019. Before the season proper kicks off next month, two star-studded All-Star teams will go head-to-head this Friday.
Steve previews the match-up:
After starting with a bang in 2010, the NRL All Stars concept was losing its appeal because the NRL All Stars squad was made up of a motley crew of extremely talented players that had no common bond motivating them to actually try to win.
Recognising this and because so many stars were pulling out for the NRL All Stars team, the league has made an excellent decision to change the game to Indigenous All Stars v Maori All Stars for NRL 2019!
By ensuring both teams have a shared cultural bond, the intensity and importance of this match has sky rocketed. While some are getting a little too keen in calling this an equivalent to an Origin match, I do think rugby league fans are in for a real treat here. Showing just how much it means to the players, centre Latrell Mitchell is missing his team’s World Club Challenge final in England so that he can play in this match!
The game is being played at AAMI Park in Melbourne and some of the most exciting players in the NRL will be lining up. But most importantly for us punters, I think there is some good value on offer fort the Maori team… here is why:
If you look through the Indigenous backline, you cannot help but be excited! Latrell Mitchell, James Roberts, Josh Addo-Carr, Blake Ferguson and Cody Walker are some of the most talented and exciting attacking players in the NRL.
Throw in guys like Andrew Fifita up front and Tyrone Peachey at lock, and I can understand why the bookies have the Indigenous team slight favourites. But if you scratch the surface of this team, they are more vulnerable than the market thinks.
Firstly, they are lacking some serious experience in 2019. Thurston, Inglis, Thaiday and Joel Thompson have been integral members of the Indigenous team since its inception and their presence and leadership around camp will be sorely missed.
At the moment, I struggle to see who in this team will be named captain for the Indigenous team. That stuff matters with such a short camp, as you need strong senior guidance to make sure the preparation is taken seriously.
Secondly, I think the Indigenous spine is a little weak and rusty. Bevan French has been rushed into replace Barba at fullback, with French barely able to make first grade last year for the Eels… who came last. Then you have Tyrone Roberts at halfback, who is coming off a stint in the much inferior UK Super League and no sure thing to start for the Titans… who came third last.
Finally you have Peats at 9, who had a disappointing 2018 season and is also fighting for his starting spot at the Gold Coast. This means a lot will come down to the talented Cody Walker, who is more a running half and not known for leadership or direction.
Thirdly and most importantly, I think the Indigenous forward pack is pretty light on. With Ryan James ruled out due to injury, the Indigenous team have lost a tremendous forward and a big body that would have helped massively against the huge Maori forward pack.
Now, a lot will fall onto the shoulders of Andrew Fifita, who although can be brilliant on his day, can be guilty of trying too hard. Ryan James has been replaced by Josh Kerr (a player I had to google to research, because he is uncapped at the NRL level).
While the Maori team may lack the excitement machines that the Indigenous team possess out wide, they have a better overall team and their spine is well balanced.
Out wide guys Hiku, Gagai, Marsters and Kahu know how to find the line and with Ponga and Hughes in the halves, the Maori team have two of the best young players in the NRL (Ponga is the best player in the competition, on my rating system).
Then up front, you have a team stacked with Kiwi, ex-Kiwi and Aussie reps. Guys like Harris, J Bromwich, Tamou, Blair and Proctor have a ton of experience at the elite level and will relish the chance to represent the Maori team (after being the nucleus of the Kiwi forward pack for the past decade).
Throw in the younger, but in-form backrowers like Tapine, Fisher-Harris and Harawira-Naera, and you have a top shelf forward pack that will prove very hard to contain.
Although McLean being ruled out is a loss, K Bromwich come into the team and his experience with the Melbourne players mean that whatever they lose in talent, they will make up in continuity.
Importantly, with Brandon Smith at hooker, the Maori pack also has one of the most exciting young hookers in the league, so I really like the look of their spine and cannot see too many weaknesses.
The emotion of this contest will see it stay close early and the freakish speed and power in the Indigenous back line will keep it competitive for most of the match, but I think that once bench players are called upon and the teams tire out (remember this is their first match of the pre-season so match fitness levels will be woeful), the superior squad that the Maori’s possess will be too much for the Indigenous team to handle and the likes of Ponga and Hughes will cause havoc.
The Maori to win by 6 points.
Betting Play: I have taken the Maori Team at $2.00 to win and +1.5 at $1.90.
NRL 2019 is kicking off in mid-March, and after 3 straight winning seasons we’re pleased to announce Steve Green’s NRL betting tips are coming back for another year.
Win on NRL 2019 with the help of expert betting tips from Steve, an expert analyst with years of NRL betting experience.