• Owens Opinion Indigenous All Stars (Supplied)Source: Supplied
The games between the Indigenous All Stars and the New Zealand Maori teams are the perfect way to start the 2019 rugby league season, says premiership-winning former player and Over the Black Dot co-host Owen Craigie.
Owen Craigie

21 Aug 2018 - 2:45 PM  UPDATED 21 Aug 2018 - 2:45 PM

The Indigenous All Stars are back, and to open the 2019 NRL season they'll play against a New Zealand Maori side. It's great news.

It's a decision that makes complete sense and is almost an obvious arrangement to play the two teams together, but it still takes people to make the decision and make it happen.

It's another example of the NRL leading the way and we've come off a big World Cup series and we've come off a couple of great grand finals and the game's just grown bigger and better and take your hat off to the NRL once again for leading the way and showing the way.

And to take the game down to Victoria, where it's a fairly foreign sport to them, is something special.


The Road of Endless Possibilities

The game didn't happen this year because of the World Cup late last year, but now it's back, it should be a simple case of it happening every year.

Every year they can mix it up. They could have the All Stars play Tonga, and then the New Zealand Maori again.

We can have the Indigenous All Stars playing whoever.

A Super League team can come, for example, or even the best players from the Super League come as a team. There's so much the game can do. It's just got so many legs for a bigger future.

Australia's Indigenous community has given so much to rugby league and beyond, like the Maoris in New Zealand, and the NZ Maori teams have been around for a while in both rugby league and union.

To have these two great teams playing together, and against each other; the game's just gonna grow even bigger and even in AFL heartland it'll be a sold-out stadium.

With all of the talent on show such as Latrell Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr, Tyrone Peachey and Dane Gagai - I can't wait.



Don't Miss the Women's All Stars

There's also gonna be a women's All Stars game with the same teams ahead of the men's match, which is another excellent decision.

The women's rugby league has been phenomenal and there's a lot of class there.

We've got world-class players and in the future the women's competition will be a league of their own. They're just growing too big and everyone just loves to see it.


A Final Goodbye

There's also talk the men's game would be the perfect way for Johnathan Thurston and Sam Thaiday to say farewell to the game, in one last hitout.

They'll have to maintain some level of fitness through the off season, but I think it's a great idea, I think it's awesome. Let them do it and let them finish the greatest game of all, the way they should do: playing for their culture and with their people and going out in front of a packed stadium in Melbourne.

Why wouldn't you want to go out like that? They deserve it.

And for JT, to finish your last game playing for your culture and your people and the game that he's done so much for, it's a movie script made in heaven.

I can't wait to talk more about JT next week, ahead of his final NRL game, but this weekend he'll play his final game in Townsville and it'll be emotional for JT and his family.

But we're very, very blessed and very fortunate to witness someone of his caliber play football.

You always hear stories about the little Clivey Churchill and all these old legends, but we're very blessed and very lucky to actually see someone like JT play footy.


GI's Decision

In regards to Greg Inglis and the scheduling conflict with the Charity Shield and his club South Sydney, that decision should be taken out of his hands - he shouldn't be put in that position.

There's only one choice and it's the Indigenous All Stars. That clash won't happen and the game has to grow the game.

Greg shouldn't have to make it, but if it does come down to it, he'll have to play the All Stars.

Over the Black Dot is on again tonight, as always during the season, and we love your support as always and remember to check out our Facebook page this week.

We've been doing some really fun interviews, Andrew Fifita's interview has been going really well and also with the Ninja Warrior, Jack Wilson.

So keep checking it out and let the show grow bigger and better for next year.



Owen Craigie is a Gamilaroi man and former NRL star. Owen has played for the Newcastle Knights, Wests Tigers and South Sydney Rabbitohs. He is co-host of NITV's weekly Rugby League panel program, Over The Black Dot.

For more Owen Craigie and Rugby League hot topics, tune into Over the Black Dot, live tonight at 8.30pm on NITV (Ch. 34). Join the conversation #OverTheBlackDot