• From left to right: Elenore Binge, Raecene McGregor, Elijah Taylor, Cody Walker, Caitlin Moran and Laura Pitt. (NRL.COM )Source: NRL.COM
The NRL's All-Stars is back in 2019 with a revamped approach and four deadly new jerseys.
By
Brooke Fryer

Source:
NITV News
3 Dec 2018 - 6:10 PM  UPDATED 3 Dec 2018 - 6:10 PM

The NRL's All-Stars competition has been refreshed in 2019, with Australia's mens and womens Indigenous All-Stars competing against All-Star New Zealand Māori teams.

Four new jersey designs were revealed on Saturday to go with the revamped concept, with Aboriginal players Cody Walker and Caitlin Moran joined by Māori rugby league players, Elijah Taylor and Raecene McGregor to show off the latest men's and women's team playing strip. 

Jillaroo star halfback, Ms Moran, a Gamilaroi and Anawan woman, told NITV News that this year's jerseys eclipsed previous years with their vivid colours, and with the women's jersey referencing the 2018 NAIDOC theme, 'Because of Her we Can'. 

"The jerseys have been pretty cool designs and stuff, but I think this year they have gone all out. Just with all the colours, and to represent the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. I love it," Ms Moran said.

Over fifty designs from artists across Australia and New Zealand were submitted to a selection panel , with judges settling on the work of Gomeroi artist Elenore Binge for the Australian Indigenous womens jersey. The design represents Mother Earth, protector of land and sea, says the inaugural winning artist. 

The men's Indigenous men's jersey was designed by Laura Pitt, also a proud Gomeroi woman. It features a goanna which is the totem of the Gomeroi people. 

After missing the inaugural NRL women's premiership with a knee injury, Ms Moran said she is a 50/50 chance of playing in the All-Stars match

"All my rehab is going really well and I'm back running and back in the gym squatting and deadlifting and stuff, so hopefully. I guess time will tell," she said. "It's definitely the game I want to come [back] with, as it's my favourite game of rugby league"

Senior manager of Indigenous strategy at NRL, Mark deWeerd, said the event will be a great cultural showcase of sporting talents from two different First Nations groups. 

"The cultural performance, having two really proud First Nations coming together, it's an event people shouldn't miss," he said. 

The concept is also set to visit Melbourne for the first time, with the double-header played at Melbourne Storm's home ground of AAMI Stadium on the 15th of February.

The one year break has given the NRL time to survey fans and players about the game said Mr deWeerd.

In the past, the contest has endured marquee players withdrawing from the game before kick-off. The inclusion of the Māori teams is an effort to combat this problem. 

"We noticed crowds and TV ratings were dropping slightly, and research suggested we review the concept. Preference (from fans) was that the Indigenous All-Stars played against a New Zealand Māori side, so as a result we have listened and changed the concept up." 

Mr deWeerd said there is already a great amount of interest in the new NRL All-Stars game. 

"We've had some great feedback..., from a cultural perspective it will be a great piece," he said. 

One highlight will be the pre-game Indigenous war cry and the Māori haka.

As in the past, NRL fans will vote for their favourite players in their preferred positions, with the coach of each team having the final pick of players and positions. Voting will begin in January next year, before the teams run out in February. 

World Cup of Nines relocates to Sydney in 2019 

Sydney will also host the inaugural World Cup of Nines next year, with 12 countries competing in the tournament in October. 

The format will feature men's and women's games, with 12 men's matches and four women's, all held at the new Western Sydney stadium. 

The competition will kick off just two weeks after the NRL grand final, and means some players could potentially have a nine-month long season, counting the All-Stars clash. 

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said the league's big names would be playing in the inaugural carnival next year, despite their busy schedules. 

"Players will desperately want to play for their nations," Mr Greenberg said. "I can imagine the likes of our Pacific nations players here in October - imagine PNG, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga up against Australia, New Zealand and England, plus other nations. It will be a festival." 

Each game will run for 20 minutes in total, with two nine-minute halves and a two-minute half-time break. 

Each team will have six interchange players. 

Mr deWeerd said he hopes there will be a number of Indigenous players selected for the tournament.