Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
The All-Stars game is always a hotly anticipated match-up as it is seen by many as the unofficial launch of the NRL season.
It also shines a spotlight on both the Indigenous and Maori cultures and gives players a chance to represent people with pride and unrivalled passion.
On top of this, the All-Stars game allows promising young talent to make a name for themselves or garner some serious attention on a big stage which should remain the case in 2023 as several players will be looking to impress.
After excelling for the Penrith Panthers New South Wales Cup side J’maine Hopgood will be given a proper crack at first grade this season with the Parramatta Eels and there is no better way for him to start the season than to have a strong performance for the Indigenous All Stars.
Hopgood will be starting the game at lock in a forward pack that will need him consistently breaking down the opposition defence and tiring out the Maori All Stars superior pack on paper.
Gold Coast Titans half Paul Turner has received plenty of praise in the past for the exceptional skill and talent he has put on display in the New South Wales and Queensland Cup competitions but has not been given much of a chance to show what he can do in first grade.
He will be given a big opportunity to excel in the All-Stars game though as Turner will be the starting halfback for the Maori side with Zach Docker-Clay at five-eighth.
Whether justified or not Tyrell Sloan has not been happy with his game time at the St George Illawarra Dragons and will be looking to show coach Anthony Griffin that he deserves a starting spot for the Red V in round one by standing out in the All-Stars game.
Sloan will start on the wing for the Indigenous All Stars which could limit his chances of having any real impact on the game; however, he could shift into the fullback role throughout the match.
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs recruit Hayze Perham will be looking to lock down the fullback role in 2023 with the position likely up for grabs throughout the year.
Perham will be given the ultimate chance to prove himself in the role during the All-Stars game as he will start in the one for the Maori side and must have a big performance if his team is to be a chance of matching their opposition’s exceptional-looking backline.
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