The NRL All Stars concept is in its third year, with Indigenous All Stars taking on the Maori All-Stars in Townsville on Saturday night at Townsville.
NRL All Stars: Summary
- Both squads heavily affected by injury and the snap lockdown of Victoria. But the Maori team has lost some key players in the form of Brandon Smith and Jarome Hughes.
- Indigenous backline is very strong and this is where I think they will prove too strong. Guys like Dylan Walker and DWZ are a liability in defence for the Maoris.
- The indigenous bench is very weak, however. So if the Maoris can control the ball and starve the Indigenous backs of attacking opportunity, they definitely have the team to win this.
NRL All Stars: Prediction
I am leaning towards the Indigenous team. So I think the market has it about right with the Indigenous team currently 6 point favourites. But I have had a small bet on the first half draw paying $9.00 at NSWTAB and Sportsbet for some value, as I think the opening 40 minutes will be close.
NRL All Stars: Detailed preview
It is a real shame that so many key players will not be lining up for the Maori Team. With guys like Ponga ruled out through injury and now a whole host of Melbourne premiership winners ruled out of the game, the Maori team has been decimated. The Indigenous Team is now a little stronger on paper.
With a backline featuring Mitchell, Ramien, Alex Johnson, Ferguson, Wighton and Walker, the Indigenous team has some of the best attacking outside backs in the competition.
Although they will miss Addo-Carr, they have more than enough talent to cover his loss.
Jamal Fogarty had a breakout year in 2020. He’s has earned the right to guide this team around on Saturday night. He and Walker should compliment each other well and the big question is how Reuben Cotter at 9. Cotter has always impressed me when given a shot at the Cowboys, but he is not a starting NRL hooker and the Indigenous team do not have an obvious back up. Cust is likely to be given some time playing there.
In the middle they have some dynamic forwards in the form of Andrew Fifita, David Fifita and Tyrone Peachey. Guys like Corey Thompson and Brian Kelly from the Titans will both provide plenty of back up spark when called upon.
The one weakness the Indigenous boys do have is forward depth. With no Joel Thompson of Wade Graham, the Indigenous bench features guys like Zac Saddler, Chris Smith and Josh Curran.
These guys are fringe NRL players at best. So although I think the Indigenous boys will start well, they could struggle to maintain the intensity.
The Maori team have a strong starting team also, with guys like Nicoll-Klokstad, Luai, Benji Marshall, James Fisher-Harris and Tapine among the best players in the competition in 2020. Guys like Nikora, Dylan Walker and DWZ have a ton of first grade experience. Others like Riki and Herbert have been impressive in their short NRL careers.
Jeremy Marshall-King at 9 has a lot of experience after playing starting hooker for the Doggies in 2020. And Issac Luke will provide plenty of experience and spark when given a shot.
The weakness in the Maori team comes from their bench. Guys like Emry Pere, Zane Musgrove, Jackson Topine are all on the fringe of first grade. But as discussed earlier, the Indigenous team has a similarly inexperienced bench. So if the starting Maori Team forward pack can hold their own, then this game should go down to the wire.
The odds have shortened on the Indigenous Team, with the market reacting to weaker replacement players the Maori team have been forced to name.
But these games are emotional affairs. And with only one week for the squads to click and most players very unfit due to a lack of match fitness, it really could go either way.
NRL All Stars: Predicted score
Indigenous All-Stars 24
Maori All-Stars 18
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