Rugby League returns to our screens on Saturday night as the Indigenous and Maori teams meet for the annual All-Stars Game up in Townsville.
Several household names will represent their cultures in front of a sold out Queensland Country Bank Stadium, while footy fans will also get a good look at the next wave of stars with Round 1 of the NRL less than a month away.
With pride on the line and a chance for a few young guns to make a name for themselves, this year’s All-Stars game promises to open the season with a bang.
Below, you can find our best head-to-head tip, as well as a few player
Head to Head Betting
Latrell Mitchell’s inclusion in the side has seen the Indigenous All-Stars open as the short-priced $1.65 favourites on Saturday night.
The South Sydney fullback hasn’t been seen since injuring his hamstring in Round 16 last year, but he should feel right at home with teammates Alex Johnson and Cody Walker taking the field.
At the line, the Maori All Stars find themselves as the +3.5 outsiders, but as we saw last year, this young and powerful squad tends to play well in the underdog role.
The Maori’s pulled off a memorable 30-16 over the Indigenous side on the Gold Coast thanks to a big night from Kodi Nikorima, Kalyn Ponga and Dylan Walker.
Unfortunately, Maori head coach David Kidwell has a lot less to work with this year with a handful of his key playmakers on the sidelines due to Victoria’s ongoing border situation.
The Bromwich brothers, Jahrome Hughes, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and both Remis and Brandon Smith have all been ruled out, leaving the bulk of the work firmly in the hands of Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Dylan Walker and Benji Marshall’s hands.
With that in mind, the Indigenous side does look tough to back against with a tremendous amount of depth and attacking prowess behind them.
Even with Josh Addo-Carr ruled out, Laurie Daley’s side has plenty of solid names to rely on, headlined by the South Sydney trio and Blake Ferguson at the top, and hard-nosed debutants like Cade Cust and Jamal Fogarty down further.
This Maori side will no doubt be a tough out, but so will keeping up with this talented Indigenous side for a full 80 minutes.
Tip: Back the Indigenous All-Stars to Cover the Line (-3.5 Points) @ $1.90
Anytime Try Scorers
Blake Ferguson dominated this game last year leading the way with 195 running metres and a try for the Indigenous side.
Likewise, Maori superstar Dallin Watene-Zelezniak had himself a game opening the scoring in the fourth minute on his way to an equally dominant night.
Both players look great value to score again, but if you’re looking for some real value, Cody Walker might be the go.
Walker missed this game last year with a shoulder injury, so he should be fired up to open the season in a big way.
Esan Marsters also flashed some brilliance this time last year, breaking a handful of tackles to finish with more than 150 metres. With several big names missing from the Maori side, you can expect the ball to be in his hands often.
Tip: Blake Ferguson, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Cody Walker, Esan Marsters Anytime Try Scorers