Friday 13 February
Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
Broadcast on Channel Nine from 8:30pm
A total of five South Sydney Rabbitohs players will take the field on the Gold Coast this Friday night when the NRL All Stars take on the Indigenous All Stars in the next instalment of the Rugby League and community celebration.
Greg Inglis, Alex Johnston, Kyle Turner and Chris Grevsmuhl will all line up in a talented Indigenous outfit that includes the likes of Johnathan Thurston and Justin Hodges among a raft of Indigenous talent. Meanwhile, Rabbitohs Test centre Dylan Walker will line up against his Club teammates for the NRL All Stars, playing outside a formidable halves combination made up of Mitchell Pearce and Kieran Foran.
For the five Rabbitohs, the match will be their last on Australian soil before travelling to the UK to take on reigning Super League champions St Helens in the World Club Challenge at Langtree Park on February 22nd. Michael Maguire’s men will take on the Northern Pride in their last trial match before the trip this Saturday against the Northern Pride in the Return to Redfern clash.
With the game’s best players coming together in an exhibition that will include Indigenous pride, fast flowing football, rule changes aplenty and the chance to get back into Friday Night Football, this year’s All Stars clash promises to be one to remember.
Greg Inglis: For GI, this will be his first hit-out for 2015, and his last chance to get himself right for the World Club Challenge. Few people doubt the importance of the Test and Origin fullback to any team he lines up in, and this match will be no different. Averaging a massive 166 metres per match with the ball in hand, possessing the size and strength of a front rower and the speed of the most agile of backs, GI is certain to play a memorable role in this match.
Alex Johnston: It didn’t take for AJ to make his mark in first grade and achieve what many players struggle to achieve during an entire career. Johnston went from a promising under 20s fullback to a regular first grader who would ultimately become the Club’s top try-scorer in 2014 on his way to a Premiership ring and a spot in the Australian Four Nations’ squad. A starting spot in the Indigenous outfit may have seemed a long way away this time last year for the young-gun, but he’ll be ready to take on the challenge come kick-off, with his mentor and Rabbitohs teammate – Inglis – right behind him to build on their combination.
Kyle Turner: Similarly to Johnston, Kyle Turner couldn’t have imagined that an All Stars berth would be on the cards so soon. But after a season that saw the young-gun become one of the most effective defensive forwards in Souths’ 21st Premiership winning line-up, the call-up was justified. Expect Turner to do plenty of damage in defence while making plenty of metres up front.
Chris Grevsmuhl: Despite not having made his first grade debut yet, in just a few performances in the Auckland Nines and the Charity Shield, the damaging forward managed to score two crucial tries including an amazing charge-down try in the Nines Final. If Grevsmuhl’s sense of occasion is anything to go by, he’ll be making his mark in this match.
Dylan Walker: He may be playing opposite four of his Rabbitohs teammates, but Dylan Walker won’t have any shortage of talented friends around him in the NRL All Stars line-up. A Souths Junior who has enjoyed a rapid rise thanks to his speed, strength and vision, Walker will be out to terrorise his teammates with everything he’s learned in his short time in the top grade.
Changes to the 40-20 rule and scrums will be trialled in Friday night's match. NRL Referees Elite Performance Manager Tony Archer said all scrums would be moved to the centre of the field in the match.
Archer also said any kick of 40 metres or more which finds touch will give possession to the kicking team.
He said both changes were designed to allow more attacking opportunities for both sides and would potentially ensure a more exciting contest.
The attacking team will have the choice of which side the ball is fed into scrums. Meanwhile, the lock from the attacking team will not have to bind in scrums.
"With significant space and attacking opportunities on both sides of the scrum, we hope that there will be ample opportunities for the team in possession to attack immediately from the scrum win," Mr Archer said.
"While this remains a trial of the change, we wanted to test this in a high-quality pre-season match and the All Stars presents us with that opportunity."
Any general play kick which finds touch 40 metres further down field from where the ball is kicked will result in a tap to the kicking team.
"This is designed to open up the attacking opportunities - both sides will now have a greater opportunity to regain possession after a set," Mr Archer said.
"The video referee will help ensure that the rule is monitored appropriately."
The changes have been discussed by the NRL Competition Committee over the past 12 months. The scrum rules were trialled in a Holden Cup pre-season match in 2014, but Mr Archer said it was important to also test it in a top-level match.
The Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars will see the pre-season trial of four touch judges continue. Two of the touch judges can also move to in-goal areas when play reaches the try-scoring zones, enabling a greater presence of officials during critical plays.
All Stars Teams
NRL All Stars
1. Matt Moylan - Panthers
2. Manu Vatuvei - Warriors
3. Jarrod Croker - Raiders
4. Dylan Walker - Rabbitohs
5. Antonio Winterstein - Cowboys
6. Kieran Foran - Sea Eagles
7. Mitchell Pearce - Roosters
8. James Graham - Bulldogs
9. Nathan Friend - Warriors
10. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves - Roosters
11. Beau Scott (c) - Knights
12. Jason Taumalolo - Cowboys
13. Paul Gallen - Sharks
14. Jesse Bromwich - Storm
15. Luke Brooks - Tigers
16. Joseph Paulo - Eels
17. Trent Merrin - Dragons
18. Corey Parker - Broncos
19. Jeremy Smith - Knights
20. Dave Taylor – Titans
Indigenous All Stars
1. Greg Inglis - Rabbitohs
2. Alex Johnston - Rabbitohs
3. Will Chambers - Storm
4. Justin Hodges - Broncos
5. Josh Hoffman - Titans
6. Ben Barba - Sharks
7. Johnathan Thurston - Cowboys
8. George Rose - Dragons
9. Ray Thompson - Cowboys
10. Ryan James - Titans
11. Tyrone Peachey - Panthers
12. Kyle Turner - Rabbitohs
13. Chris Grevsmuhl - Rabbitohs
14. Tyrone Roberts - Knights
15. David Fifita - Sharks
16. Dane Gagai - Knights
17. Tyson Andrews - Sea Eagles
18. Jack Wighton - Raiders
19. Kierran Moseley - Titans
20. Brad Tighe - Titans