FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED FROM THE ALL STARS GAME

FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED FROM THE ALL STARS GAME Written by MARK ST JOHN, February 13, 2016

THE NRL All Stars withheld a valiant comeback from the Indigenous All Stars to secure a 12-8 win at Suncorp Stadium. Here are the five things RLW learned:

1. The All Stars clash is here to stay.
The format may change but this clash simply means too much to the Indigenous players and supporters for it to be scrapped. The passion the players showed in their pregame war cry was carried with them throughout the eighty minutes and the 40,000 strong crowd at Suncorp Stadium showed the fans support for the fixture. With Indigenous players making up 12 percent of the NRL and that number growing, this annual contest is a must for players and fans alike. Is it time to trial an Indigenous All Stars vs Maori All Stars clash?

2. The new interchange laws have made their first impact.
While they didn’t have an effect in a clash involving double the reserves it was notable the lean physiques on display tonight at Suncorp Stadium. With the number of interchanges down to eight in 2016 coaches have been busy reconditioning their forwards to withstand the fatigue factor and there were some big boppas looking in the shape of their careers tonight notably the Fifita brothers, Sam Thaiday and James Graham.

3. There is no way the players take this fixture lightly.
The way both sides through themselves into this contest suggested there was no chance of easing into the season with a game of touch football. Some of the barnstorming runs by Konrad Hurrell and the massive hits by both forward packs were electrifying. Unfortunately Raiders coach Ricky Stuart will be sweating on the fitness of Jack Wighton who went off injured in the third quarter of a torrid encounter.

4. Cameron Smith continues to get better with age.
From the opening whistle Cameron Smith controlled the play from his side with the timing and precision we have become accustomed to. His 40/20 in the 17th minute was all class and signalled that Smith is set for another big year in 2016. Bad news for long suffering Blues supporters but great news for rugby league.

5. Televised games on the eve of a new season need to have stars playing.
In contrast to the Charity Shield game between the Rabbitohs and the Dragons and despite a fair few withdrawals the All Stars clash was of a much higher quality thanks to the personnel available. While mistakes are to be expected this time of year The Charity Shield was an awful advertisement for rugby league at a time of year when the game is selling itself to prospective fans. The more stars in both annual games the better for the NRL.

NRL All Stars 12 (Hurrell, Radradra tries; Reynolds 2 goals) beat Indigenous All Stars 8 (Latu, Gagai tries)

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