2019 NRL All Stars Preview: Indigenous All-Stars v Maori All-Stars
What a way kick start the NRL season!
The All Stars game this Friday night in Melbourne sees the Indigenous side go up against a Maori outfit that is stacked with international experience.
Corporates and most bookies have the Indigenous All Stars as favourites, however, we believe the value is definitely with the Maori All-Stars who have an excellent team on paper.
Kalyn Ponga is a superstar in the making and his influence for the Maori outfit will be the key to their success.
The youngster played fullback for most of last year with Newcastle and was sensational but who could forget his Origin debut in Game II? He came on and caused the Blues headaches from the outset and nearly won Queensland the game before being cut down by James Tedesco short of the try line.
Many are predicting that he will win the Dally M this year such are the raps on this kid. So his combination with Jahrome Hughes will go a long way to determining the outcome of this match.
The Maori side has a massive advantage in rep games with 223 caps amongst the squad compared to the Indigenous team's 33.
Their squad reads like a who's who of the NRL with Dan Gagai, Jesse Bromwich, James Tamou, Kevin Proctor, Tohu Harris and Adam Blair joining Ponga and co.
While the Indigenous side is certainly dangerous, it appears as though they have been built for speed with Bevan French, James Roberts, Latrell Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr making for an intimidating backline. Their weakness, however, will be in the forwards with Andrew Fifita the leader of the pack and the only one with big-game experience across representative fixtures and Grand Finals.
It's a lottery, let's be honest, but we are prepared to have a lazy $20 on the Maori All-Stars to get the job done.
There is plenty of value to be found in this match though and Josh Addo-Carr or Bevan French as First Tryscorers appeal as a good bet too.