Cultural pride is on the line this weekend as the annual 2020 NRL All Stars Game returns to the Gold Coast.
The Indigenous All-Stars are the heavy favourites to defend their crown, but we could be treated to a much closer encounter this time with several of the games top stars featuring on both sides.
It’s officially time to get excited about footy, so with the home/away NRL season only three weeks away, we’re here to help you build a bank with our All-Stars Preview below!
Head to Head Betting
On paper, the Indigenous All Stars still look the team to beat, but they’ll have to dig deep with Andrew Fifita and Cody Walker on the sidelines.
Both players have been deemed unfit as they recover from offseason surgeries, leaving the bulk of the playmaking firmly in Latrell Mitchell’s hands.
The Rabbitohs’ newest recruit is yet to score in an All-Stars Game, but Mitchell did play a big part in last years victory setting up his teammates on numerous occasions.
Mitchell will play alongside a familiar cast of Blake Ferguson and Josh Addo-Carr – both of whom scored during last years win. Walker’s replacement, Tyrone Walker, was also named Man of the Match in 2019.
Even with two of his top stars missing, coach Laurie Daley still has plenty of time to tinker with his squad. Zac Saddler, Tyrell Fuimaono and Jamayne Taunoa-Brown have all been called up as injury replacements and should be eager to put on a show.
Maori also enters Saturday’s game a little worse for wear following the omission of Benji Marshall.
James Tamou and Nelson Asofa-Solomona are also significant outs for coach David Kidwell, meaning a brilliant performance from fullback Kalyn Ponga and halfback Kodi Nikorima is required if the Maoris are to pull off an upset.
Maori can feel confident in their towering forward line, but the question is, do they have enough talent down back to keep up with speedsters like Addo-Carr, Ferguson and James Roberts?
This year’s matchup certainly feels a lot closer than it did last season, but the absence of Asofa Solomona and Tamou will be felt. There’s nothing stopping Esan Marsters from leaving his mark on the game (again), but the Indigenous team should pull away in the second half for a comfortable victory.
Tip: Back the Indigenous All Stars to Cover the Line (-4.5 Points) @ $1.90
More often than not, the All-Star Game turns out to be a high-scoring affair.
The Indigenous team has scored 30-points or more in each of the last two games, while Skilled Park (now CBUS) played host to the highest-scoring game in 2012 – won by the NRL All Stars 36-28.
A few key outs and some young inclusions could lead to some sloppy defence at times on Saturday, so with all that in mind, play on the Over.
Tip: Over the Points Total
Anytime Try Scorers
The battle at fullback between Latrell Mitchell and Kalyn Ponga should be the most fascinating part of this game, but there’s plenty of value to be found elsewhere in the Try Scorers market.
Maori’s forward line should have plenty of energy in the early goings and it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see them create some space out wide for the likes of Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, or through the middle for Esan Marsters.
If you’re looking for a player on the Indigenous side, you could do a lot worse than Eels winger Blake Ferguson. The big man led the way with 203 metres last year to go with a try right before half time.
Tip: Back Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Esan Marsters and Blake Ferguson Anytime Try Scorers