It's on this Saturday as the All Stars games roll into Townsville
It’s on for 2021 as the NRL launches its competitive season with the Harvey Norman All Stars games in Townsville on Saturday.
The men’s game is set up to be immense as the Maori look to follow up last year’s 30 – 16 victory but are hardest hit by Covid related border restrictions which has robbed the game of seven players in total.
Cody Walker has been named as captain of the Indigenous All Stars team while Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Joe Tapine will share the Maori leadership duties.
The Maori squad is a potent mix of power, skill and athleticism and will provide a huge challenge to the blinding speed and ad-lib attacking instincts of Laurie Daley's Indigenous squad. Both coaches and squads have their eyes firmly on the prize – the Arthur Beetson Trophy.
Indigenous winger Alex Johnston admitted his team is looking for redemption and wants to prove a point in what is likely to be a very pro-Indigenous crowd in north Queensland.
"It's very serious, this is one of the games you look forward to," he said.
"You get out there and definitely want to win and we're very hungry for a win this year.
In the women’s game the scoreboard stands at one win apiece after the Indigenous women's team got revenge on their Maori opponents in last year's clash. The 2021 fixture, the first of a double-header at Queensland Country Bank Stadium with the men's game, will contain a strong contingent of NRLW talent as well as providing a platform for promising players.
Twenty of the 36 players named in both squads have got NRLW experience, including international representatives like Corban McGregor, Botille Vette-Welsh, Zahara Temara and Tallisha Harden.