Inglis and Merritt in Top Ten of Indigenous All Stars Voting
Friday 21 December 2012 12:48 PM
With just 50 days until kick-off in the 2013 Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars in Brisbane, Rabbitohs fullback Greg Inglis holds a narrow lead in the Indigenous All Stars voting, with winger Nathan Merritt currently ranked in ninth spot.
Already in 10 days a combined total of more 12,000 fans have registered their selections at www.nrl.com/allstars ahead of voting closing on 14 January for the 16 prized public-chosen spots in the 20-man squads for both teams for the fourth annual All Stars match to be played at Suncorp Stadium.
With only one player from each club eligible for Wayne Bennett’s NRL All Stars, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk are in a head-to-head battle to be the Melbourne Storm's selection, which in turn affects the chances of Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds to earn selection in the side.
Slater’s All Stars debut hopes rest heavily with his Storm, Queensland and Australian team-mate Cronk, who is locked in a tight battle with the Reynolds for halfback. Because Slater has more votes overall than Cronk, he currently has the edge for the one Storm spot chosen by the public, which would likely mean that Reynolds would get the halfback position.
While Slater leads the voting for fullback, Eels star fullback Jarryd Hayne is the most popular NRL All Stars player overall (his votes are spread across the fullback, wing, centre and bench positions). Less than 200 votes separates Hayne from James Tamou (Cowboys), Brett Morris (Dragons) and Paul Gallen (Sharks).
Likewise, voting for the Indigenous All Stars is also very tight, with just 40 votes separating the first-placed Greg Inglis (Rabbitohs) from Greg Bird (Titans) and Ben Barba (Bulldogs).
Rabbitohs favourite son Nathan Merritt is in line for his fourth consecutive selection in the Indigenous All Stars side, currently sitting in ninth on the voting ladder.
In 2012, the Rabbitohs had three representatives in the Indigenous All Stars side, with Merritt and Inglis being joined by Nathan Peats in the team.
Fans can choose from all of Rugby League’s best Indigenous talent for Laurie Daley’s Indigenous All Stars.
Top 10 in overall votes so far:
Indigenous All Stars:
1) Greg Inglis (Rabbitohs)
2) Greg Bird (Titans)
3) Ben Barba (Bulldogs)
4) Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (Raiders)
5) George Rose (Sea Eagles)
6) Jamal Idris (Titans)
7) Andrew Fifita (Sharks)
8) Justin Hodges (Broncos)
9) Nathan Merritt (Rabbitohs)
10) Joel Thompson (Raiders)
NRL All Stars:
1) Jarryd Hayne (Eels)
2) James Tamou (Cowboys)
3) Brett Morris (Dragons)
4) Paul Gallen (Sharks)
5) Akuila Uate (Knights)
6) Billy Slater (Storm)
7) Michael Jennings (Panthers)
8) Josh Morris (Bulldogs)
9) David Taylor (Titans)
10) Nate Myles (Titans)
Following the closing of the public online voting on 14 January, the final squads will be announced in Brisbane on 16 January.
Both coaches will be able to select additional bench players to complement the 16-man teams chosen by the public to make up a 20-man squad, with Bennett able to select two extras alongside automatic selections Benji Marshall (New Zealand captain) and Cameron Smith (Australian captain).
Daley will pick three extra players in addition to automatic selection and Indigenous All Stars captain Johnathan Thurston and the 16 public selections.
The Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars is supported by Events Queensland as part of a growing calendar of sporting, cultural, regional and business events across Queensland.