Former Internationals Willie Mason and Timana Tahu will make a stunning return to representative football as rivals after the Knights team-mates were today named as ‘coach’s selections’ for next month’s Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars in Brisbane.
Newcastle and NRL All Stars Coach Wayne Bennett chose Mason to make his All Stars debut alongside Adam Reynolds (Rabbitohs), James Tamou (Cowboys), Billy Slater (Storm) and Tim Grant (Panthers), while Tahu was chosen by Laurie Daley for his Indigenous All Stars side featuring seven newcomers. The others are Raiders’ trio Reece Robinson, Jake Foster and Jack Wighton, Aidan Sezer (Titans), Joel Romelo (Bulldogs) and Dane Nielsen (Warriors).
Indigenous All Stars captain Johnathan Thurston and Broncos NRL All Stars selection Ben Hannant joined Bennett and Daley in Brisbane today for the announcement of both squads for the fourth annual Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars match to be played at Suncorp Stadium for the first time on February 9.
More than 40,000 Rugby League fans have had their say via two online voting stages to select a representative from each of the 16 NRL Clubs in the 20-man NRL All Stars squad, while fans could choose from all of Rugby League’s best Indigenous talent for Daley’s Indigenous All Stars.
Following the closing of the public online voting on Monday, Bennett was able to select two extra players alongside automatic selections Benji Marshall (New Zealand captain) and Cameron Smith (Australian captain); while Daley could pick three extra players in addition to automatic selection (as captain) Thurston.
Bennett’s other ‘coach’s selection’ is the Storm’s Cooper Cronk, while Daley also chose Wighton and Nielsen.
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NRL matches are played in Australia and New Zealand from autumn until spring. The season culminates in the premiership-deciding game, the NRL Grand Final, traditionally one of Sydney's most popular sporting events and one of the largest attended rugby league club championship events. In addition, the NRL premiers also play in the World Club Challenge, a pre-season match against the champions of the European Super League competition.