Coach Laurie Daley says his Indigenous team will look to unleash their speedsters in Friday night’s All-Stars match, aware that New Zealand Maori’s strength will lie in the middle of AAMI Park.
Taking on the Maori side for the first time since the inaugural All-Stars match in 2010, the Indigenous line-up boasts plenty of pace out wide in Josh Addo- Carr, Latrell Mitchell, James Roberts, Alex Johnston and Blake Ferguson.
Daley will be instructing newly appointed captain and playmaker Cody Walker to get his exciting outside backs involved as much as possible.
“We’re taking on a team whose forwards are big and strong so it’s probably not going to work for us through the middle of the field so we’ve got to use the ball,” Daley said on Thursday.
“We’ve got a backline that’s full of pace and we’ve got some size there and we want to ulitise our strength.
“We’ve still got to stop the big forwards in the middle of the park first because if we don’t do that they will be rolling through us and it will make it tough.”
As well as some big boys in the pack, the Maori team have rising superstar Kalyn Ponga in his first start at five-eighth, where he will play this NRL season with Newcastle.
Ponga is playing in the halves with another young gun in Melbourne’s Jahrome Hughes.
Despite the pair playing predominantly as fullbacks, New Zealand coach Stacey Jones, a former Test halfback, says the rookie duo haven’t needed any special attention in the build-up.
“This week at training, sitting back and watching their skill level – they’ve just got to play off the back of what our forwards do,” Jones said.
“They’re two talented young kids and they’ve really fitted in well.”
Maori skipper Adam Blair said his team wanted to put on a good show so they were rewarded with more games.
“We’re trying to build a platform for the future for Maori boys coming through, whether it’s in the NRL or playing another game like, whatever we can do to help that,” Blair said.
An Indigenous women’s All-Stars team will also square off against a Maori side for the first time as the curtain-raiser.