The Harvey Norman All Stars game is back for the first time since 2013 and the match, to be played at CBus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast on Friday night, February 13, pits the best NRL All Stars against the best Indigenous All Stars as the build up to season 2015 heats up.
The Indigenous All Stars have a classy back line with South Sydney Rabbtiohs captain Greg Inglis at fullback, Brisbane Broncos veteran Justin Hodges at centre and North Queensland Cowboys champion Jonathan Thurston steering the side around at half back with a rejuvenated Ben Barba alongside him at five eighth. The loss of Chris Sandow, the best player at the recent Auckland Nines, is a big blow, and it will be up to Barba to continue on from his good showing at the Sharks’ recent trial match.
The NRL All Stars have named Penrith Panthers young gun Matt Moylan at fullback with ‘The Beast’, Manu Vatuvei on one wing and Canberra Raiders point-scoring whiz, and captain, Jarrod Croker in the centres. Long-time friends Kieran Foran and Mitchell Pearce are the halves, while there is plenty of physicality in the pack with Jarred Waerea-Hargreaves, Beau Scott and Paul Gallen taking their place in the team.
The Indigenous All Stars have a much weaker forward pack following the withdrawals of both Sam Thaiday and Greg Bird, and with no established star up front, they will have their hands full containing the NRL All Stars pack which is brimming with talent, so much so, that the likes of Trent Merrin and Corey Parker have to settle for bench spots.
With Thurston running the show, Inglis sniffing around the ruck, and a quality finisher in Alex Johnston, the Indigenous All Stars have plenty of points in them, but on paper, they are giving away a lot of class in the pack, and even a player of Thurston’s calibre can only do so much when his forwards aren’t dominating.
With a vastly superior forward pack and plenty of quality out wide, the NRL All Stars should win, and win well.
NRL All Stars by 16