The NRL season once again kicks off with the All Stars game, with the Indigenous All Stars taking on the Maori All-Stars on Saturday night at Paramatta.
NRL All Stars 2022: Preview
We head into another NRL season with COVID looming in the background. Some of the biggest stars for both teams are unavailable to play because of disrupted pre-seasons caused by COVID, but it is the Maoris that have been hit particularly hard.
In previous seasons the Maoris have had players like Ponga, B Smith, J Hughes, Joey Manu, J Hughes and J Luai lining up in key positions. With none of those guys lining up this year, the Maori side is lacking in star power. Their best two players are their props (Tapine and Fisher-Harris).
The only specialist winger they have named is Rapana, but without a recognised fullback, the veteran Raider will wear the number 1. While the halves pairing of Nikorima and Harris-Tavita are good players, they are a chance of being the second string halves for the Warriors in 2022 (behind Johnson and Ash Taylor). And with Erin Clark at hooker, their overall spine is the weakest I have seen in a Maori team since the All-Stars game has been around.
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Furthermore, their outside backs are stacked with centres, with Patrick Herbert and Morgan Harper having to play on the wing, despite neither guy being blessed with the speed needed to play that position. This shortcoming is likely to be exposed by the Indigenous All Stars, who have two of the quickest players in the game lining up on their wing (Addo-Carr and The Hammer).
While the Indigenous team will be missing key players of their own (Cody Walker, Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton), the guys they have brought into their squad for 2022 were some of the most improved players of 2021 (Will Kennedy, Nicho Hynes and the Hammer).
— NRL (@NRL) February 10, 2022
I think others named such as Trindall, Curran and Cotter are very underrated players. And with wrecking balls like David Fifita, Jessie Ramien and Ryan James, the Indigenous team has the size to match it with their Maori opponents. The only big setback for the Indigenous team was the withdrawal of Jack Bird earlier in the week. But they have enough depth to cover his loss.
These games have traditionally been close and so I understand why the bookies think a 6 point line is appropriate. However on my ratings the Indigenous team is about 12-16 points better based on the teams named.
NRL All Stars: Predicted score
Indigenous All-Stars 28
Maori All-Stars 14
NRL All Stars: Recommended bet
Indigenous All Stars -6.5: $1.90 with TopSport.
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