Local boy Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has been named to play for the Māori All Stars in next month’s game against the Indigenous All Stars in Rotorua, but there are only two current Kiwi Ferns in the women’s team.
33-year-old Waerea-Hargreaves, who was born in Rotorua, is making his first Māori All-Star appearance in this now traditional game to open the NRL season.
For the first time, this game will be played in New Zealand and the French front rower clearly jumped at the opportunity to play in the game at the Rotorua International Stadium on February 11th.
New Māori All Stars coach Ben Gardiner, who replaces David Kidwell, has been able to name an exceptionally strong squad which includes Joey Manu, from nearby Tokoroa.
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Others on the team include Fisher-Harris, Joseph Tapine and Nelson Asofa-Solomon.
They will be up against a visiting Indigenous all-star team that includes Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr, Nicho Hynes and Selwyn Cobb.
There are three Warriors players in the Māori squad, including Adam Pompey, Dylan Walker and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
The Māori All Stars women’s team does not include the golden Booz winner from last year’s Rugby World Cup, Raecene McGregor, who missed the game with injury.
The only two players from the Kiwi Ferns on the World Cup team are Shanice Parker, who played in last year’s Newcastle NRLW competition, and Sydney Welsh’s Mya Hill-Moana.
Also in the team is Jillaroos prop Kennedy Cherrington, who chose to play in the game to represent her Māori culture.
But the problem with all players in the women’s all-star game is that they take personal risks.
While the CBA negotiations between the RLPA and NRL remain in doubt, none of the NRLW players’ contracts would have it any other way.
One serious injury in an all-star game and his future professional contract will be in jeopardy. But Cherrington told AAP it was a risk he was willing to take.
“Put my hand in to play because the week and the game are so important to me personally,” Cherrington said.
“To experience and share my culture and communities, which is so special with my family.
“It is not a question of players coming into the game taking huge risks. No player has a contract for the next NRLW season and private health insurance already covers the game. That expired on December 31.
“We don’t want the NRL to come to the table and negotiate that the CBA should be agreed by the players through the RLPA. That’s our expectation because it’s their responsibility.”
The NRL told AAP players would be provided with insurance for the All-Star Games, but Cherrington said it was not the same as the comprehensive private insurance previously provided to players by clubs, because players are not contracted.
“And a perfect example is Golden Boot winner Raecene McGregor, who just suffered an MCL injury six to eight weeks into our training,” he said.
Māori All Stars (Māori)
Jesse Arthars, Daejarn Asi, Nelson Asofa-Solomon, Zach Dockar-Clay, James Fisher-Harris, Corey Harawira-Naera, Morgan Harper, Royce Hunt, Joseph Manu, Zane Musgrove, Brito Nikora, Hayze Perham, Adam Pompey, Jordan Rapana, Jordan Riki, Joseph Tapine, Starford Toa, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Dylan Walker, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.Some: Ben Gardiner
Native All Stars (Men)
Joshua Addo-Carr, Bailey Butler, Selwyn Cobbo, Tyrell Fuimaono, J’maine Hopgood, Nicholas Hynes, Ryan James, Joshua Kerr, Ezra Mam, Latrell Mitchell, Shaquai Mitchell, Kierran Moseley, Brent Naden, Tyrone Peachey, Tyrel Sloan, Chris Smith, Will Smith, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, Cody Walker, Jack Wighton. Some: Ronald Griffiths
Māori All Stars (Women)
Brooke Anderson, Destiny Brill, Gayle Broughton, Harata Butler, Kahu Cassidy, Kennedy Cherrington, Laikha Clarke, Zali Fay, Mya Hill-Moana, Olivia Kernick, Shannon Mato, Capri Paekau, Aaliyah Paki, Shanice Parker, Ashleigh Quinlan, Tiana Raftstrand- Smith, R. Strange, Zahara Temara, Kailey Thompson, Amy Turner. Some: Keith Hanley
Native All Stars (Women)
Essay Banu, Shaylee Bent, Jaime Chapman, Bree Cestria, Kirra Dibb, Quincy Dodd, Taliah Fuimaono, Tallisha Harden, Caitlan Johnston, Keilee Joseph, Bobbi Law, Mia Middleton, Sareka Mooka, Rhamni Peters, Kaitlyn Phillips, Shaniah Power, Jada Taylor Tahlulah Tillett. Some: Ben Jeffries