Benji Marshall, halfback of the NRL All-Stars has declared the now annual All-Stars clash between the NRL All-Stars and the Indigenous All-Stars as tough as a test match, as the NRL All-Stars have squared the ledger at one apiece between the two sides.
With the Indigenous All-Stars winning the inaugural clash last year 16-12, the NRL All-Stars were just too good, and under the watchful eye of coach Wayne Bennett and captain Darren Lockyer, the players stood tall, and came away with the victory.
Both sides played with physical intensity that resulted in cuts bearing blood, big hits, and players being knocked out, with some players being put on report in a clash played in front of 25,000 fans.
“I’m stuffed,” said an exhausted Marshall.
After last years loss in the game, Bennett said that “it would be the last time that you will beat us” and his words rang true, as the NRL All-Stars did just that, and won.
“With the quality of players and as competitive as we are, it was a very tough game,” said Marshall
The NRL All-Stars team was surprised at the passion and heart shown by the Indigenous side last year, and they refused to take the game lightly knowing full well what their opponents were capable of.
“It was a physical game and we expected that,” said Marshall
“We turned up ready to play and we were pretty good.
“We wanted to play the first 20 minutes like it was a Test match.
All Stars hooker Cameron Smith said the football should have thrilled the crowd.
“I thought they were going to get us (like they did when Jamie Soward scored late last year),” he said
Smith was full of praise for Canberra Raiders fullback Josh Dugan, who took out the Preston Campbell Award for his man-of-the-match performance.
“He’s headed for a very big year, even a sky blue jumper.”
Marshall also agreed with Smith’s sentiments.
“You see the young stars like Josh Dugan and Akuila Uate perform the way they did and sit back and enjoy them.
“This is a great concept and I’m glad I could be a part of it.
The only downside in the game, and perhaps a blow for the Wests Tigers heading into the season, is Liam Fulton being placed on report for a high-tackle on Indigenous All-Stars halfback, Jonathon Thurston.