2013 All Stars Preview
Friday 8 February 2013 9:43 AM
The annual All Stars game is upon us as the NRL and Indigenous All Star sides head to battle at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
As always, it’s expected to be an entertaining match and a great advertisement for Rugby League.
Three rule changes will be tested:
1) Ruck infringements which do not result in the breakdown of play (dropped ball, foul play) will result in a tap rather than a kick for touch;
2) Quick taps (similar to the 20-metre restart) can be taken from the point of the offence; and
3) For any attacking team that kicks the ball from the outside the opponents 30-metre line (30 metres from try line) and the ball goes dead in-goal, the opponent will receive the ball via a handover (tap restart) from the point where the kick originated.
With a number of late withdrawals the makeup of the NRL All Stars squad is rather different to the one selected a few weeks ago.
The big losses for the NRL All Stars are workhorse forward Paul Gallen, Anthony Watmough, Dave Taylor, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk.
Chris Heighington comes in for Gallen, Justin O’Neill for Slater, Kieran Foran takes Watmough’s spot, Ash Harrison for Dave Taylor and Shaun Johnson makes his way into the side for Cooper Cronk.
There were no changes to the Indigenous side although Rabbitohs try scoring machine Nathan Merritt pulled out just before the teams were announced.
Merritt was outstanding in last year's match scoring a double and running for 140 metres, the most of any player on the park.
With the sides getting together a week before the All Stars game, the late changes shouldn’t have too much of an impact, although the quality of player missing certainly will.
Keys to victory
The NRL All Stars have enormous forward depth with the likes of Tim Grant, Robbie Farah, David Shillington and Feleti Mateo on the bench while the Indigenous side will be tested in this area.
Joel Romelo, Ryan James and Jake Foster round out the forward reserves with Timana Tahu looking increasingly like coming on as a forward substitute as well.
A great deal of responsibility will be on the shoulders of Rabbitohs hooker Nathan Peats.
Peats will don the number 13 jumper for this clash and will be expected to do a truckload of defensive work, not that he can’t handle it.
In 2012, Peats averaged over 30 tackles per game for the Rabbitohs from just over 50 minutes of playing time.
There’s a handy hint if you’re playing All Stars Dream Team, Peats will play lots of minutes and score well.
This game will come down to which side can gel better in defence.
The Indigenous All Stars missed a whopping 61 tackles in 2011 on their way to a 28-12 loss and missed 42 in last year’s 36-28 defeat.
Compare this to the 25 and 26 missed tackles in 2011 and 2012 respectively from the NRL All Stars and it’s easy to see why the Indigenous side were on the wrong end of the score line.
Rabbitohs Player Matchups
Adam Reynolds vs Scott Prince
The 2012 Rookie of the Year comes up against the wily veteran Scott Prince.
Prince has done it all from State of Origin to International honours while Reynolds will be hoping to impress NSW Coach Laurie Daley as he presses for Origin selection in the coming seasons.
2013 All Stars
Greg Inglis vs Josh Morris
Greg Inglis heads back into the centres where he’ll take on State of Origin adversary Josh Morris.
Morris scored 17 tries for the Bulldogs in 2012 while Inglis was dynamic at fullback.
2013 All Stars
Nathan Peats vs Chris Heighington
Heighington comes into the side for injured team mate Paul Gallen and will take on the Rabbitohs' Nathan Peats.
Peats is playing somewhat out of position at 13 but is more than capable while Chris Heighington has been adjusting to life at a new club, signing with the Sharks in the off-season.
2013 All Stars