In 2010, the NRL adopted their own version of an all-stars concept which pitted a fan-voted squad involving at least one player per club against an Australian Indigenous team.
Eventually this annual event developed into a meaningful game between Australian Indigenous and New Zealand Māori, with their upcoming match being played on Saturday 20th February at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville, shelving the fan-voted NRL team for good.
With it being the tenth edition of the all-stars this season, I thought I’d pay homage to the original concept, throw my own spin on it, and select a team that would reflect a true NRL all-stars line-up for 2021.
The selection process will maintain that only one player per club can be chosen in their relevant positions although any NRL player can be selected, including players with Indigenous or Māori heritage.
Below is what I call my All-Stars Ultimate XVII:
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Warriors)
2. Josh Addo-Carr (Storm)
3. Kotoni Staggs (Broncos)
4. Joseph Manu (Roosters)
5. David Nofoaluma (Tigers)
6. Shaun Johnson (Sharks)
7. Daly Cherry-Evans (Sea Eagles)
8. Josh Papalii (Raiders)
9. Cameron McInnes (Dragons)
10. James Fisher-Harris (Panthers)
11. Cameron Murray (Rabbitohs)
12. Tyson Frizell (Knights)
13. Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys)
14. AJ Brimson (Titans)
15. Raymond Faitala-Mariner (Bulldogs)
16. Ryan Matterson (Eels)
Now, selecting this team was very difficult due to the amount of talent excluded. I found that clubs with higher representation in multiple positions meant that a handful of quality players were not going to make the cut and would have to cater for those clubs with low representation.
It meant that certain positions needed to be filled by players from clubs with minimal representation and at times may have excluded a player from another club considered to be better than the one selected.
As such, I broke down the listed players by club representation:
* Melbourne Storm (13)
* Sydney Roosters (11)
* South Sydney Rabbitohs (10)
* Parramatta Eels (9)
* Gold Coast Titans (9)
* Newcastle Knights (8)
* Penrith Panthers (8)
* Canberra Raiders (8)
* Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (5)
* Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (5)
* New Zealand Warriors (5)
* Brisbane Broncos (5)
* Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (4)
* St George Illawarra Dragons (2)
* North Queensland Cowboys (1)
* Wests Tigers (1)
With the listed players totalling at 104, I then grouped them into their relevant positions in an effort to reflect the amount of quality that missed selection in my All-Stars Ultimate XVII.
In no particular order, the players below are whom I believe are worthy of being listed as the top-tier in their position but weren’t selected:
James Tedesco, Tom Trbojevic, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Kalyn Ponga, Clinton Gutherson, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Latrell Mitchell.
Daniel Tupou, Ken Maumalo, David Fusitu’a, Brett Morris, Alex Johnston, Maika Sivo, Brian To’o, Phillip Sami, Xavier Coates, Sione Katoa.
Stephen Crichton, Josh Morris, Zac Lomax, Justin Olam, Jarrod Croker, Nick Cotric, Dane Gagai, Brian Kelly, Bradman Best, Jesse Ramien.
Cameron Munster, Jack Wighton, Luke Keary, Cody Walker, Jarome Luai, Dylan Brown, Kurt Mann, Ash Taylor, Kieran Foran.
Nathan Cleary, Adam Reynolds, Mitchell Moses, Jahrome Hughes, Mitchell Pearce, George Williams, Jamal Fogarty, Kyle Flanagan.
Jake Trbojevic, Isaah Yeo, Victor Radley, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Jai Arrow, Dale Finucane, Nathan Brown, Joseph Tapine, Mitchell Barnett, Patrick Carrigan, Adam Elliott, Toby Rudolf.
Tevita Pangai-Junior, Viliame Kikau, David Fifita, Tohu Harris, Angus Crichton, Felise Kaufusi, Elliott Whitehead, Jadyn Su’A, Kenny Bromwich, Kevin Proctor.
Payne Haas, Addin Fonua-Blake, Jesse Bromwich, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Junior Paulo, Daniel Saifiti, David Klemmer, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Christian Welch, Moeaki Fotuiaka, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Martin Taupau, Luke Thompson, Junior Tatola.
Damien Cook, Apisai Koroisau, Josh Hodgson, Harry Grant, Brandon Smith, Jake Friend, Reed Mahoney.
Regardless of these constraints, the All-Stars Ultimate XVII team that I have created is very strong and oozes talent across the park, including five Australian Kangaroos, four New Zealand Kiwis, two Toa Samoans, two Mate Ma’a Tongans, one Queenslander and two emerging Blues players.
I encourage anyone and everyone to create their own all-stars line-up with this criterion to try and match or surpass one as formidable as the one I made.
There is no questioning how challenging it is considering the amount of quality the NRL has to offer.