The last time the Indigenous All Stars v NRL All Stars game was contested was back in the 2013 pre-season and it was new Sharks recruit Ben Barba who was the star of the show.
Then a Canterbury Bulldog, Barba was a unanimous choice as man of the match as he weaved his special brand of magic, with Sharks prop Andrew Fifita also a member of the victorious Indigenous All Stars team.
Earlier this year, due to the inaugural NRL Auckland Nines, following on from the World Cup which was contested prior to Christmas, the All Stars match took a one-year hiatus in 2014 but it has been resurrected in 2015 and is scheduled for February at Cbus Stadium on the Gold Coast.
And once again Barba and Fifita are likely to get the call via the fan vote or from Indigenous All Stars coach Laurie Daley for the match set down for February 13.
Fan voting has commenced, where you get a say on who will pull on an Indigenous jersey in the big game early next year.
Visit the NRL website at www.nrl.com/allstars to vote or to find out more.
Following is an NRL press release announcing the start of fan voting and at the same time detailing the NRL All Stars v Indigenous All Stars clash.
NRL Press release
RUGBY LEAGUE FANS TO SELECT INDIGENOUS ALL STARS SQUAD
Rugby League fans are invited to vote online to select the 20-man Indigenous All Stars squad to play in the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars at Cbus Stadium Gold Coast on Friday, 13 February, 2015.
Voting for the Indigenous All Stars will commence from midday Monday 1, December (tomorrow) and will close on January 9, 2015 with teams to be announced on January 19.
For more details and to have your say on who will pull on the Indigenous All Stars jersey, please visit nrl.com/allstars
The Indigenous All Stars squad will be coached by Laurie Daley set to play the Wayne Bennett Lead All Stars squad.
NRL Head of Commercial Paul Kind said the NRL was delighted to announce the details for the match’s return to the rugby league calendar as part of a two-year commitment to stage the game in Queensland.
“The Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars is a unique celebration of the diversity of the game, and we are pleased to confirm that in partnership with Tourism and Events Queensland the event will be held on the Gold Coast next year and in Brisbane in 2016,” Mr Kind said.
“Harvey Norman, who have supported this event since its conception in 2010, will also extend their partnership for another three years. It is fantastic that we can continue to work with them to keep growing this event for the Rugby League community.”
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and The Commonwealth Games Jann Stuckey said the games reinforce Queensland’s reputation as a premier sporting event destination,” Ms Stuckey said.
“This event is a fantastic celebration of Australia’s many cultures, bringing league fans from across the country together in Queensland to experience the most exciting exhibition match in rugby league.
“The Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars will be promoted as part of the recently launched It’s Live! in Queensland marketing platform, which highlights the perfect union of world class events and destinations.
“Destination Success, Queensland’s 20-year plan for tourism, recognises the importance of securing major events such as this which drive repeat visitation to Queensland’s world-class destinations.”
Harvey Norman Chief Executive Katie Page said: "We are so proud to have signed on as naming rights sponsor for another three years. It is an event that spans a week and culminates in a game that brings the player communities, the fans and families even closer together.
"What could be better - a game that recognises the Indigenous community for its phenomenal contribution to the fabric and heart of rugby league; it grew from within the Indigenous playing community and every fan can champion their favourite player.
"Harvey Norman is so fortunate to be involved with this hallmark game - the atmosphere in the crowd is electric with Indigenous community pride and the competition is outstanding. It is our favourite date on the NRL competition calendar.”
Also announced today is the three year partnership between the Crown Resorts Foundation and the Indigenous All Stars Team.
Crown Resorts CEO Rowen Craigie said: “The Crown Resorts Foundation is excited to be partnering with the Indigenous All Stars team. The NRL’s Indigenous All Stars carnival is aimed at promoting social inclusion and Crown hopes to make a difference by supporting educational and employment opportunities for young Indigenous Australians.
“We feel that the ‘Learn, Earn, Legend’ message promoted throughout the carnival is a simple, but powerful message for kids and teenagers to stay in school, get a job and be a role model for their friends, family and community.
Crown has recently employed its 400th Indigenous employee and will continue through our resorts to directly increase training and employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians.”
Tickets are currently available to NRL club members via Ticketek. General Public tickets will be on sale from Friday 5 December, 2015. Please visit Ticketek.com.au/Allstars.
Johnathan Thurston, 2013 Indigenous All Stars Captain and a member of the Indigenous player’s leadership group, said: “I am really thrilled to see the return of the Harvey Norman All Stars to the Gold Coast next year. I have some very fond memories from the previous games and camps there and I can’t wait to go back.
“Not only does the All Stars concept provide an exciting game for everyone to watch at the start of a new rugby league season, it provides a deep sense of community and has a tremendous impact off the field.
“It gives our Indigenous players a special opportunity to celebrate our heritage with our people, families and friends.
“I feel privileged to be involved again and especially to have another opportunity to lead the Indigenous All Stars side. That’s a huge honour that I will cherish.”
Since the All Stars concept was introduced in 2010, profits form the match have been invested in Indigenous community programs including mentoring sessions, workshops, cultural activities, assistance with learning, behaviour and attendance, self-esteem, leadership, communication and social skills.
The 2015 event will begin with a mixed Touch Football match, which will be followed by The NSW and Queensland Under-16s.
A display of the best in women’s Rugby League when the women’s All Stars take on the women’s Indigenous All Stars will then play the curtain raiser before the main match kicks off at 7.30pm.
A host of community-based events will be organised by the NRL’s One Community program in celebration of the All Stars event.