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ALL STARS WEEK, All Stars Team Photos and Captain portraits, Suncorp Stadium :Digital Image Grant Trouville © NRLphotos : NRL Rugby League – 2016 Indigenous Allstars v World Allstars Brisbane QLD. Sunday February 9th 2016.

Storm captain Cameron Smith has backed the NRL All Stars match to remain as part of the pre-season fixture.

Smith leaped to the defence of the showpiece event after its future was cast into doubt following the withdrawal of several star players beyond this year.

However the All Stars captain is adamant the exhibition game should be here to stay.

Smith also added that the now-hectic nature of the pre-season schedule is making it too difficult for players to commit to appearing in every game.

“I’m a traditionalist so I’d prefer to see this stay, it’s an important game,” Smith said.

“I was given the choice of playing the Nines or this by (Melbourne coach) Craig Bellamy and I chose this… It’s where I would rather play.

“At the moment that’s our calendar and all the players are doing their best to satisfy the schedule, but unfortunately you can’t have all the stars playing in every match.

“We’ve lost a few through the Nines, one of the biggest names has opted to prepare for the World Club Challenge in Johnathan Thurston — unfortunately with the demands of the game and training we just can’t get up for everything.”

The third instalment of the Auckland Nines, which was played last weekend, was another crowd-pleasing success as Storm reached the semi-finals for the first time.

Smith admitted that he could see how the rapid-fire, nine-a-side tournament was managing to capture so much attention.

“In sport these days the shortened version of games are more popular with Nines, seven rugby and T20 cricket. This makes it hard to argue when that has crowd support,” he said.

“All we can do as players is do our best on game day and I’m confident we will have a great crowd on Saturday night.”

The World All Stars will take on the Indigenous All Stars at Suncorp Stadium this Saturday night at 6.50pm.

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