Thompson to debut as an All Star
Toyota Cowboy Ray Thompson will become a first-time Indigenous All Star after earning the starting hooker spot for the clash with the NRL All Stars on the Gold Coast next month.
With 89 games on his NRL record, Thompson has previously represented Papua New Guinea in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup but he also is eligible for the Indigenous squad through his heritage on his mother Sania’s side.
Thompson’s North Queensland teammate Johnathan Thurston will again captain the Indigenous team, joining Cronulla’s Ben Barba in the halves, after topping the online public vote of more than 15,000 fans.
Joining them in the backs will be the experience of Origin and Test star Greg Inglis (South Sydney) at fullback, Justin Hodges (Broncos) in the centres, alongside Will Chambers (Storm), while winger Alex Johnston (South Sydney) and Gold Coast Titan Josh Hoffman will make their All Stars debuts.
In the forwards, the Indigenous side will be led by Kangaroo Greg Bird and his Titans team mate Ryan James, with Broncos stalwart Sam Thaiday joined by youngster Tyrone Peachey (Panthers) in the second-row and recent St George Illawarra signing George Rose at prop.
Adding to a talented lineup are four coaches picks from Laurie Daley, including Kyle Turner (Rabbitohs), Jack Wighton (Raiders) and Kierran Moseley (Titans).
Daley commended fans on their enthusiasm in the selection process.
“The public have made it easy for me and I can't wait to coach this squad," Daley said.
"It is a wonderful squad and there is some incredible talent all the way through it. They will play some exciting football and that is exactly what the All Stars concept is known for.
“I’m really looking forward to bringing this side together and coaching some of the
game’s best players and brightest talents.”
Having been part of Indigenous All Stars camps as a member of the coaching staff and as a player, assistant coach Wendell Sailor said he was proud to be a part of the concept again.
“There is no doubt the fans will be in for an entertaining game with the great mix of talented and exciting backs and powerful forwards in both teams, as well as the blend of experience and youth,” he said.
“What is so special about the Indigenous All Stars game is that it recognises the huge contribution that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players make to rugby league and is a celebration for the wider community.”
Tickets are available for the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars at ticketek.com.au/allstars.
2015 Indigenous All Stars:
1. Greg Inglis (Rabbitohs)
2. Alex Johnston (Rabbitohs)
3. Will Chambers (Storm)
4. Justin Hodges (Broncos)
5. Josh Hoffman (Titans)
6. Ben Barba (Sharks)
7. Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys)
8. George Rose (Dragons)
9. Ray Thompson (Cowboys)
10. Ryan James (Titans)
11. Tyrone Peachey (Panthers)
12. Sam Thaiday (Broncos)
13. Greg Bird (Titans)
14. Chris Sandow (Eels)
15. Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (Storm)
16. Dane Gagai (Knights)
17. Kyle Turner (Rabbitohs)
18. Jack Wighton (Raiders)
19. Kierran Moseley (Titans)
20. Brad Tighe (Titans)