20th February 2021, 11:19 | nrl
A host of potential 2021 Rugby League World Cup stars were on display as the Indigenous and Maori All Stars sides did battle in Townsville.
A late penalty goal from Latrell Mitchell meant that the Indigenous Men and Maori Men drew for the first time while it was a dominant 0-24 win for the Maori Women in the first game of the evening.
Kiwi International Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was on the scoresheet for the Maori side while fellow New Zealand Rugby League World Cup hopefuls Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Joseph Manu both also featured in the backline; both running for over 100 metres.
James Fisher Harris – who made his International debut against Scotland in the 2016 Four Nations – was dominant down the middle for the Maori All Stars powering forward for almost 140 metres from his 16 carries.
All-time New Zealand great Benji Marshall was in the halves for the Maori side and will be hopeful his performances throughout 2021 with South Sydney Rabbitohs will earn him a third Rugby League World Cup appearance.
Alex Johnston was the only try-scorer for the Indigenous All Stars and could feature for Papua New Guinea at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup having played and scored in the Kumuls memorable victory over Great Britain Rugby League in November 2019.
Mitchell kicked the crucial penalty goal to earn the Indigenous All Stars a draw in the final minute. The South Sydney Rabbitohs fullback has earned four caps for the Kangaroos and could be one to watch at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
George Williams’ Canberra Raiders halfback partner Jack Wighton also featured for the Indigenous All Stars albeit in the centre position. Wighton has two Australia caps to his name.
Andrew Fifita led the Indigenous line and has been an integral part of the Tonga side which has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the world of International Rugby League since the last Rugby League World Cup in 2017.
The star of the Women’s game was New Zealand Ferns halfback Raecene McGregor who crossed for two tries in a dominant display. Nita Maynard was also impressive in the hooker role.
England Women’s hopefully Roxy Murdoch – who captained Warrington Wolves in previous seasons – came on from the interchange bench for the victorious Maori side.
Sydney Roosters and Australia Jillaroos forward Tallisha Harden captained the Indigenous All Stars Women in defeat.