Host of NSW names in NRL All Stars clash

Margie McDonald

True Blue Jack Wighton and Sky Blues star Caitlan Johnston headline a list of NSW Origin players selected for the men’s and women’s NRL Indigenous-Maori All Stars game in Rotorua next week.

The 11 February match is the first All Stars game to be held in New Zealand since the Maori team was introduced to the First Nations heritage concept in 2019.

Wighton will be playing in his seventh Indigenous jersey after six previous appearances between 2016-2021 at fullback, five-eighth, centre and a replacement.

He is joined by Blues squad members Latrell Mitchell (four appearances), Josh Addo-Carr (three), Cody Walker (two), Nicho Hynes (one), Ryan James (six) and Tyrone Peachey (six).

Premiership winner in 2022 in The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup with the Penrith Panthers – J’maine Hopgood – who has signed with Parramatta this season, will be making his Indigenous debut.

Former Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs NSW Cup player, Zac Dockar-Clay who has signed with the North Sydney Bears this year, has been named in the Maori side.

In the women’s All Stars, three incumbents from the Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues Origin win over the Maroons in Canberra last June – Johnston, Shaylee Bent and Quincy Dodd – already have four Indigenous jerseys and will earn a fifth in Rotorua.

Sky Blues forward Kennedy Cherrington, who has joined the Bulldogs for their debut season in the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership this year, is playing for a third time with the Maori.

NRLW Premiership winner in 2021 with the Sydney Roosters, Olivia Kernick, made her Origin debut for the Sky Blues in 2022, and is eligible for both teams due to her family heritage. She will represent Maori again having played for them last year, while she represented the Indigenous team in 2021.