The 2019 NRL season will kick off with a New Zealand Māori All Stars taking on an Australian Indigenous All-Stars in a men’s and women’s double-header in Melbourne.
The NRL’s head of football Brian Canavan said the new concept, which will make its debut on February 15, had received strong support from fans and players.
“The All-Stars concept has been popular with crowds across the country and abroad since it first commenced back in 2010,” said Canavan.
“In 2019, we’re taking the All-Stars to another level, paying homage to Australian and New Zealand First Nations cultures and celebrating the unique bond between both countries.”
The concept will allow Māori players to play for the All Stars even their national allegiance is not to New Zealand, allowing the likes of Kalyn Ponga, Corey Norman, Valentine Holmes, Jordan McLean and James Tamou to turn out for the Māori All Stars, despite favouring Australia at a national level.