Stage Two of All Stars voting now open
Monday 10 December 2012 4:38 PM
Five North Queensland Toyota Cowboys are left in selection contention for the 2013 Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars game as the cut-throat final public stage of voting gets underway.
Cowboys members and supporters face the challenge of deciding which of their favourite players to select for NRL All Stars and Indigenous All Stars honours in the fourth annual All Stars match to be held at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium for the first time on 9 February.
Stage one of voting online for the NRL All Stars team on www.nrl.com/allstars determined a 64-man shortlist – including Cowboys Matthew Scott, James Tamou, Ash Graham and Kane Linnett - for the final stage of public voting.
Fans have until 14 January to cut that to16, with only one player from each club eligible for Wayne Bennett’s NRL All Stars, while fans can choose from rugby league’s best Indigenous talent for Laurie Daley’s Indigenous All Stars.
Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston is an automatic selection as captain and five-eighth in the All Stars line-up with halfback Robert Lui the other contender after Matthew Bowen, Anthony Mitchell and Ray Thompson were ruled out following off-season surgery.
Both coaches will be able to select additional bench players to complement the 16-man teams chosen by the public to make up a 20-man squad, with NRL All Stars coach Bennett able to select two extras alongside automatic selections Benji Marshall (New Zealand captain) and Cameron Smith (Australian captain).
Daley will pick three extra players in addition to Thurston and the 16 public
Test and Origin prop James Tamou was the most popular Cowboy in stage one voting which closed two weeks ago, but he still has to hold off Scott, Linnett and Graham in the final stage to secure his first All Stars jersey.
Fans will also have to choose between the likes of Paul Gallen, Beau Ryan and Luke Lewis from the Sharks, Melbourne’s Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk, the Raiders’ Josh Dugan and David Shillington, Eels Jarryd Hayne and Fuifui Moimoi, and the Dragons’ Ben Creagh and Brett Morris, who all made the shortlist of 64 players, which comprises two forwards and two backs from each NRL club.
Bennett said: “It’s important we have the best players in the game in the team.
“My tip for the public selectors, who have always delivered an excellent team for me to work with, is to think about the key positions first – halfback, five-eighth, hooker and fullback.
“Given two of those spots are already covered with Benji Marshall (five-eighth) and Cameron Smith (hooker) as automatic selections, I would look at filling the halfback spot first, then fullback because there are so many quality options to choose from.
“You have the likes of Josh Dugan, who has done a good job the past two years; Jarryd Hayne, who is more than up to it at fullback after missing out with injury in previous years; and the talented Billy Slater, but he will no doubt be locked in a battle with Cooper Cronk for the one Storm spot.”
Bennett has now assigned the following positions to the 64 shortlisted players and has asked fans to consider his guide below when choosing their NRL All Stars team.
Backs have been divided into three separate groups:
• Fullback – Specialist role
• Outside back – Includes centres and wings
• Inside back – A player who can play five-eighth or halfback
Forwards have also been divided into three categories:
• Tight forwards – A player who plays front-row and also second-row
• Edge forwards – A second-rower or lock that can play on both the right and left side edge of a team’s attack and defence
• Hooker – Specialist role
Bennett is also asking the fans to consider:
• Players marked as utility players have been designated on the basis of their ability to cover multiple positions
•The seven-man bench will require:
- two Tight Forwards
- one Edge Forward
- one Inside Back
- one Outside Back
- two Utilities