AAP Rugby

Indigenous Stars hoping speed beats size

By AAP Newswire

Coach Laurie Daley says his Indigenous All Stars will look to unleash their speedsters on Friday night, aware that New Zealand Maori's strength will lie in the forwards.

Taking on the Maori side for the first time, the indigenous line-up boasts plenty of pace out wide in Josh Addo-Carr, Latrell Mitchell, James Roberts, Alex Johnston and Blake Ferguson.

Daley will be instructing newly-appointed captain and playmaker Cody Walker to get his exciting outside backs involved as much as possible at AAMI Park.

"We're taking on a team whose forwards are big and strong, so it's probably not going to work for us through the middle of the field so we've got to use the ball," Daley said on Thursday.

"We've got a backline that's full of pace and we've got some size there, and we want to ulitise our strength.

"We've still got to stop the big forwards in the middle of the park first because if we don't do that they will be rolling through us and it will make it tough."

As well as some big boys in the pack, the Maori team have Kalyn Ponga in his first start at five-eighth, where he will play this NRL season with Newcastle.

Ponga is playing in the halves with another young gun in Melbourne's Jahrome Hughes.

Despite the pair playing predominantly as fullbacks in the NRL to date, coach Stacey Jones, a former Test halfback, says the rookie duo haven't needed any special attention in the build-up.

"This week at training, sitting back and watching their skill level, they've just got to play off the back of what our forwards do," Jones said.

"They're two talented young kids and they've really fitted in well."

Maori skipper Adam Blair said his team wanted to put on a good show so they were rewarded with more games.

"We're trying to build a platform for the future for Maori boys coming through, whether it's in the NRL or playing another game like, whatever we can do to help that," Blair said.

Both teams spoke of the privilege of representing their cultures on a big stage and the importance of making them proud.

Daley said the way they played was more important than the result.

"It'll be a great celebration of our cultures and we'll play that way because it's more than just a game of footy," the indigenous great said.

"Even the team that loses tomorrow night, they are winners because you see the difference they make in the community and you see the impact that they have on their own cultures."

A women's Indigenous All Stars team will square off against a Maori side for the first time as the curtain raiser.