Sharks recruit Nicho Hynes is set to call the shots for the Indigenous All Stars in next week’s annual clash with the Māori All Stars after being one of seven Cronulla players named in the men’s teams for the double-header at CommBank Stadium.
Hynes, who starred a fullback in a 2021 breakout season with the Storm, joined the Sharks as their chief playmaker and he will fill the role for the Indigenous in his All Stars debut alongside Cronulla team-mates Will Kennedy, Jesse Ramien, Braydon Trindall and Andrew Fifita.
The Sharks have the highest representation of any club in the February 12 fixture, with forwards Briton Nikora and Royce Hunt in a Māori side which features the selection of Jayden Nikorima alongside brother Kodi, the Warriors and Kiwis playmaker.
Nikorima’s call-up is a major step on the path to NRL redemption after being sacked by Sydney Roosters in 2017 following seven appearances in his rookie season the year before and he is under consideration to play for the Storm in round one against Wests Tigers.
Brother Kodi, Penrith prop James Fisher-Harris, Canberra pair Joseph Tapine and Jordan Rapana, Nikora, Gold Coast forward Kevin Proctor, Storm second-rower Kenny Bromwich and Warriors utility Jazz Tevaga are the big names in the Māori team.
“I’m so thankful to have a group of players who are honoured to represent their culture," said Māori All Stars coach David Kidwell.
"This is such an important week for the game and our players recognise this. They will all do what they can to represent themselves, their whanau and their iwi.”
The Māori women have also named a strong side, which includes Kiwi Ferns playmaker Raecene McGregor, who does not have a contract for the upcoming NRLW season.
Roosters halfback Corban Baxter will captain the Māori team, which has no shortage of other big names, headed by Eels trio Botille Vette-Welsh, Kennedy Cherrington and Nita Maynard, Zahara Temara (Roosters) and Lavinia Gould (Broncos).
The Indigenous Women's team includes Brisbane’s star fullback Tamika Upton, Dragons pair Shaylee Bent and Quincy Dodd and Knights recruit Kirra Dibb.
The match will be the first occasion the All Stars teams have played in Sydney since the concept began in 2010 on the Gold Coast and it will be the first official fixture of the 2022 NRL season.
While the teams have been impacted by COVID, there will be plenty of stars on display, with Laurie Daley’s Indigenous men’s team boasting a backline that includes the strikepower of Alex Johnston, who scored 30 tries last season for South Sydney, along with Addo-Carr and fellow speedster Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.
Brisbane’s Kotoni Staggs could partner Hynes in the halves or play centre, while Dragons star Jack Bird is likely to bolster the forwards due to the backline options at Daley’s disposal.
The match will be Fifita’s first since spending five days in an induced coma last year after suffering a life-threatening throat injury in Cronulla’s round 25 match against Newcastle.
Inglis leads the War Cry
“There’s definitely a fair bit of speed and excitement in this squad,” said Indigenous All Stars coach Laurie Daley.
“Importantly we have a strong and proud group who will grow from the experience that is All Stars.
"We have some newcomers to the contest as well which gives us such an opportunity alongside others who are All Stars veterans. Our players will be very keen to learn about themselves, their teammates – and to also educate others. That’s what makes this game so special.”
Maori women's haka
Indigenous All Stars (Touch Football)
Lachlan Pierce, Jarrad Rotumah, Jardel Bob, Justin Costello, Cody Green (c), Jaymon Bob, Jared Townson, Kirralee Costelloe, Rebecca Mi Mi (c), Andi Law, Leesa Mi Mi, Keely Silva. Coaches: Trent Touma and Melissa Mitchell.
Māori All Stars (Touch Football)
Caidyn Wynyard, Caleb Gould-Waiariki, Drumayne Dayberg-Muir, Jordan Marshall King (c), Kingston Lamberg, Tyla Love, Jayden Love, Ash Quinlan (c), Aaliyah Paki, Lala Duff, Marama Thomas, Toni Wells. Coaches: John Peeni/Te Aroha.