Latrell Mitchell picked for All Stars clash as young guns prepare for NRL audition

Sport, News, Australia, Rugby League, TAS News

The ongoing confusion around the collective bargaining agreement hasn’t stopped some of the biggest names in rugby league including Latrell Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr from making themselves available for next month’s All Stars clash in Rotorua.

The squads for the men’s and women’s matches on February 11 were released on Wednesday ahead of what will be the first All Stars match played in New Zealand.

There were genuine concerns that players could boycott the annual fixture as tensions reached boiling point over the CBA which should have been finalised three months ago, but it appears they’ll continue to vent their anger in other ways.

Fears over player welfare have been raised leading into the pre-season clash, with huge concerns over the female stars who haven’t signed long-term NRLW deals and would risk the ability to earn a big contract if they suffered an injury.

An NRL spokesperson confirmed that players would be insured for the All Stars game in a small win for the women, with one of the most vocal critics of the stalled CBA negotiations, Kennedy Cherrington, named in the Maori side after winning the World Cup with the Jillaroos last year.

But that hasn’t stopped Knights superstar Tamika Upton from withdrawing from the match with players’ futures at risk.

The Maori side won last year’s men’s clash and they’ve named a formidable side featuring a stack of New Zealand stars from last year’s World Cup, including reigning Golden Boot winner Joseph Manu.

But they will be missing some familiar faces with Kalyn Ponga (calf) and the Bromwich brothers not named.

Maori forward Jordan Riki sais he was excited for the match but conceded players could consider withdrawing if there had not been sufficient progress in CBA talks.

“I love to represent my culture, (it’s) always a big thing for me,” he said.

“I‘m hoping it goes ahead but at the end of the day if it doesn’t I fully understand and back the players (union) – they’ve got my 100 per cent backing.”

Hayze Perham has also been picked in the squad and could use the game to show off his skills with recent reports suggesting he’s leading the race to play fullback for the Bulldogs this season.

The Indigenous men’s side is loaded with elite NRL talent led by World Cup winners Mitchell, Addo-Carr and Jack Wighton, as well as reigning Dally M Medal winner Nicho Hynes.

Mitchell missed last year’s match through suspension but will return alongside his brother Shaq who played in the 2022 contest and used it as a springboard to kickstart his NRL career.

NRLW premiership coach Ronald Griffiths takes over from Laurie Daley and will lead a side featuring plenty of exciting youngsters like Ezra Mam and Tyrell Sloan, with the latter a strong chance to play fullback for the Dragons this year.

The Maori women’s side looks incredible on paper and will be out to avenge last year’s defeat to the Indigenous All Stars who now have speedster Jada Taylor who has emerged as the long-term replacement for Sam Bremner if she stays at the Roosters.

Maori All Stars (Men): Jesse Arthars, Daejarn Asi, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Zach Dockar-Clay, James Fisher-Harris, Corey Harawira-Naera, Morgan Harper, Royce Hunt, Joseph Manu, Zane Musgrove, Briton Nikora, Hayze Perham, Adam Pompey, Jordan Rapana, Jordan Riki, Joseph Tapine, Starford Toa, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Dylan Walker, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak

Indigenous All Stars (Men): Josh Addo-Carr, Bailey Butler, Selwyn Cobbo, Tyrell Fuimaono, J‘maine Hopgood, Nicho Hynes, Ryan James, Josh Kerr, Ezra Mam, Latrell Mitchell, Shaquai Mitchell, Kierran Moseley, Brent Naden, Tyrone Peachey, Tyrell Sloan, Chris Smith, Will Smith, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, Cody Walker, Jack Wighton

Maori All Stars (Women): Brooke Anderson, Destiny Brill, Gayle Broughton, Harata Butler, Kahu Cassidy, Kennedy Cherrington, Laikha Clarke, Zali Fay, Mya Hill-Moana, Olivia Kernick, Shannon Mato, Capri Paekau, Aaliyah Paki, Shanice Parker, Ashleigh Quinlan, Tiana Raftstrand-Smith, Jasmin Strange, Zahara Temara, Kailey Thompson, Amy Turner

Indigenous All Stars (Women): Essay Banu, Shaylee Bent, Jaime Chapman, Bree Chester, Kirra Dibb, Quincy Dodd, Taliah Fuimaono, Tallisha Harden, Caitlan Johnston, Keilee Joseph, Bobbi Law, Mia Middleton, Sareka Mooka, Jasmine Peters, Kaitlyn Phillips, Shaniah Power, Jada Taylor, Tahlulah Tillett

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