It is a clash that holds true meaning for many players and the match lived up to the billing, with the spirited Indigenous All-Stars side coming from behind in the second half to win.
Trailing 6-0 at half-time, three unanswered tries led the Indigenous All-Stars to their third win since the concept was introduced in 2010.
It was speed v size in the clash, as 23,177 fans were treated to a spectacle of a clash. Winning the game is the icing on the cake for the Indigenous side, with Johnathan Thurston praising the side for their fightback.
“I can’t give our middle third enough credit â€“ you look at their forward pack â€“ you [the media] were questioning us whether the game would be played with any intensity and I think what you saw out there for a game in February it was first class,” Thurston said.
“We got asked plenty of questions during the week about being skinny through the forwards. We knew that and put some centres in the back-row to push the boys through, but I can’t give our guy a big enough wrap through that middle third.
“They understand what it means to play in this game and pull on this jersey and that’s what we’ve been driving all week.”
Although their first half was good, All-Stars coach Wayne Bennett was blunt post-game regarding their overall discipline. He was critical of the side in that regard.
“I didn’t think they [the penalties] weren’t unwarranted, I thought there could’ve been a lot more,” Bennett said.
“I’m just over some of the behaviour out there to be honest with you â€“ if that’s going to be the standard for the season â€“ that’s not what I want to see.
“They could have given another 15 or 20 penalties out there tonight and they would’ve been deserved.”
Completing just 20 out of their 37 sets, Bennett was disappointed with the attacking side of things but was not overly fussed by it given players are still underdone from a playing perspective.
“From our point of view [the standard] wasn’t where I’d like it to be, particularly with our ball control, so it took a bit away from game,” he said.
“That’s a by-product of not playing football. For a lot of those guys it was their first game tonight.
“It’s an intense game â€“ it’s certainly not a trial match, it was way above that â€“ if you were out in the bush it wouldn’t be such an issue. There was a lot of intensity out there and a lot of effort by both sides and we just made too many mistakes.”
Indigenous All Stars 20 (Greg Inglis, Will Chambers, Chris Grevsmuhl tries; Johnathan Thurston 4 goals) def. NRL All Stars 6 (Dylan Walker try; Jarrod Croker goal) at Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast. Crowd: 23,177. Referee: Gerard Sutton. Assistant Referees: Gavin Reynolds & Grant Atkins.