World All Stars Vs Indigenous All Stars
All Stars National Rugby League
8pm, 10 Feb 2017
McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

With the off season nearing an end, the gentle rustling of boots scraping the concrete, mouth guards being dipped in boiling water and the sweet smell of Tiger Balm gently drifting in the air, we know that the season is coming fast. With less than 21 days until the First round of the NRL commences we are giving a little taste of the sport we love, in the All Star format.

Since its conception in 2010, the fans have enjoyed some close games and a few blow outs. But the media attention and the effort by all personal in the NRL must be mentioned and applauded. With this in mind, let’s get straight into the game and find those diamonds we love.

With the team lists being released (9th Feb 17, 10am) and a few players have dropped out of the game. We won’t focus on them but look at what we can see in these lists and through this analysis come up with our top play.

Spine comparison. (Positions 1,6,7 & 9)
We are worried about the World All Stars (WAS) team list, especially the “spine” . We have at fullback (no.1) D. Mead, 19 games in 2016, with 7 tries and only 2 try assists. In the modern age, your fullback has to be able to set up tries, eg. B. Barba 18 Try assists, L. Coote 17 Try assists D. Boyd 15 Try assists, C. Munster 12 Try assists (2016 stats) to name a few, sure it’s a “fun/trial” game, but the last touch in any match is so important. Compare Mead’s stats to the Indigenous All Star (IAS) full back in J. Wighton’s numbers and this only highlights the issue more. Wighton in 2016, played 26 games, 8 tries and 13 Try assist.
In this game where combinations aren’t always the best, I would be more comfortable knowing that you have an extra ball player if required.
A big tick in the IAS box.

The Number 6 for the WAS, is West Tigers half M. Moses, who had his best year to date for the improving Tigers team. With his confidence growing he was running the ball a lot more and creating opportunities for his men. He had to take on a more dominate role when L. Brooks was out injured and he has since flourished and showing why the Tiger faithful are excited this year. We are hoping to see him continue on this path and this game will hopefully allow him to continue on his new found confidence from last year.
It would be unfair to compare him to his opposite number 6 in Johnathon Thurston, affectionately known as “JT”, as JT is a true super star of the NRL. What can we expect from JT, simple 1,000%. He loves this format and has spoken openly to how much this game means to him and the pride he has for his Indigenous back ground. He may be rested (as their is a World Cup at the end of the year) if the IAS are sailing, with A. Sezer a very handy replacement to have. However, this may not happen due to his passion for the game.
That’s another tick for the IAS.

The number 7 spot is a ripper match up this year. With M. Mbye (WAS) vs A. Taylor (IAS). Mbye’s game has been growing extremely well and is said to be in contention for the State of Origin team in the near future, with only 57 NRL games next to his name. Highlighted by his ability to poke his nose through the defensive line and create chances for his outside backs with his speed. He does have some issues with a “controlled” kicking game and at times seems to go missing during the game.

A. Taylor in his second season, after winning rookie of the year 2016, is hoping to carry on his way in this developing Gold Coast Titans team. His kicking game is beyond his years and passing is on point also. The only down side to this young mans game is his team management, but at the age of 21, with 26 NRL games under his belt, he will become better again during the season. In this game he has JT to worry about team/game management, so expecting Taylor to play a free roaming game.
The battle in the number 7 spot in our opinion is quite close, we give the edge to the IAS, due to JT’s perceived involvement and taking the pressure off Taylor. Where in the WAS, if Moses, isn’t playing well, unfortunately Mbye can also go missing and this will hurt the WAS on the board.

Arguably the hardest position on the field is the Hooker or number 9 position. These days the Hooker needs to almost play the 80 minutes, make over 40 tackles, but still be able to pass a ball 20m like a bullet under intense fatigue.
For the WAS J. Friend ticks all the boxes and then some, with a shoulder popping 1,279 tackles, at a ridiculous 95% successful rate for the 2016 season. He also plays the 80 minutes seemingly unaffected by these high tackle counts. He’s expected to take over from C. Smith in the Qld jumper once he retires, again highlighting his ability in the NRL.
His opposition is N. Peats, another quality Hooker in the modern game. From his 15 games in 2016, he made 530 tackles at a staggering 94% success rate. He similarly could represent the Blues in the near future, if he can remain injury free this year. His darts from dummy half are right up there with the likes of Smith and Friend and is an exciting prospect at the age of 26.
In this game we are only slightly leaning towards Friend, however he will have his hands full with his halves combination and their ability to keep moving the WAS forward. If not the IAS could make his tackle count to high and this could compound the WAS spines weakness.

The centres and Wingers is a clear win for the IAS. B. Ferguson, G. Inglis, J. Bird and D. Gagai against A. Uate, G. Beale, J. Croker and N. McDonald.
The IAS players have all represented Australia and their state at the highest level and must be said we’re in spectacular form last year. Ferguson had an amazing tour with the Kangaroos off a very strong performance for the Roosters. He is very much a confidence player, playing in the game he will be trying to emulate last years performances. G Inglis, if your new to the NRL, you will soon learn this blokes name or initials “GI”. An inspiration to young indigenous kids everywhere and to his adoring Souths fans. He is a massive centre and when he’s in a mood to play, there is none better than him. J. Bird, one of the young guns at the Cronulla Sharks and proving to be a player to watch in future years, with high expectations on him. He is explosive in attack and can crunch you in defence. D. Gagai, at one stage held the Newcastle Knights on his very broad shoulders in 2016. A very good player, that needs support at that club so that he can shine like he does in the Qld jumper. There isn’t to much this man can’t do and he should go well in this game.
A. Uate, well what can we say, he’s a great character of the game, however his recent for, has been terrible. He is in the side due to withdrawals, we hope he plays well, but for us he has too many errors and even though he has played 162 career games, still struggles to read plays in defence. G. Beale won a premiership last year, however we are not a fan. He has a very lazy offload and has a lazy attitude in defence, it is his side that I would target if I was the IAS. J. Croker is the shinning light in this back line. The highest point scorer in 2016, with 18 tries and 112 conversions. He has the ability to create opportunities, its weather his team mates for this game will be able to anticipate/read what he’s about to do and react. An excellent centre and is knocking on the representatives door at the age of 26. N. McDonald, relatively unknown player for the Gold Coast Titans, he’s played 42 games and is a big lad. 22 years old, 100kg and 6’4″ he is starting to find his way in the toughest competition in the world. 10 tries from 24 games, expect him to improve on this for the GCT and he will come close in this match also.

A Massive tick for the IAS, as the experience and quality of players is far greater than the WAS for this game.

The forward battle or the “Engine Room” for both teams is a mixture of strength, offload ability and adaptability. This game traditionally is a hard slog in the middle, with the backs getting all the credit for the tries. We like the IAS starting forwards, based off the props of R. James, A. Fifita and W. Graham vs J. McLean, Rehab-Campbell-Gillard and B. Cartwright. The initial grunt from James and Fifita (both touted for Origin this year) will be hard to contain by the WAS, who have looked like going for more “frontal attack” than the IAS, who can offload well. There is B. Cartwright for the WAS, who isn’t scared to pass, we hope his timing is better this year. The extended bench for both teams looks juicy also, with speed, strength and adaptation on the front of the coaches minds with this being the first full contact game these players may have played.
For us the IAS get the nod. A more experienced forward pack, that already has played with the play maker JT, which will be invaluable in this type of game.

The market that we are very interested in is the Line. Like all sports there are certain lines that are important. In the NRL, the line of 2,4,6 are the key lines. 2 points for a conversion or a penalty, 4 points for a try and 6 points is a converted try. The Bookies manipulate their lines off mountains of data, but they are the key numbers. So the set line on SB is +/-8 for $1.90, in their minds it will be a Converted try and a penalty goal that is going to seperate these teams at a minimum. William Hill is offering -6.5 for $1.90, now here is the problem, if the IAS win by a converted try, you lose and the bookie cleans up by 0.5. In this situation we would “by the hook” of -5.5 for $1.78, as if the above situation occurs, We Win by 0.5.

Previous results:
2010 – IAS Won 16-12
2011 – WAS Won 28-12
2012 – WAS Won 36-28
2013 – IAS Won 32-6
2015 – IAS Won 20-6
2016 – WAS Won 12-8

During this whole write up we have mentioned how we are worried about the WAS Spine, our play is the Line from WH of -5.5 for $1.78.
We have the IAS winning this game by 8 even more if the WAS Spine doesn’t step up. There is too much experience and class dotted through out the key positions for the IAS and this could get ugly if they all play to their potential.

IAS -5.5 @ 1.78 (William Hill)

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