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World All Stars lose shine due to schedule

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/12/2016 Steve Zemek

Mal Meninga has pleaded for the future of the NRL All Stars match despite being forced to overlook big names like Cameron Smith, Jason Taumalolo and Shaun Johnson.

World All Stars coach Meninga refused to pick many involved in the recent Four Nations tournament because of fear of player burnout and a packed schedule over the next 12 months.

While both he and Indigenous All Stars coach Laurie Daley have picked strong teams, headlined by Jarryd Hayne, Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis, for the February 10 exhibition match, a host of big names weren't brought up at the selection table.

The list of unavailable players also includes Kangaroos stars such as Smith and Cooper Cronk, along Kiwis Test players Taumalolo, Johnson and Jesse Bromwich.

With the 2017 World Cup on the horizon, and a season which includes the Auckland Nines, trans-Tasman Test and State of Origin, as well as the NRL season, Meninga said it was important to give the cream of the crop a break.

"They've played a lot of footy so we made sure that anyone who was involved in the Four Nations - for Australia, England, New Zealand or Scotland - we wouldn't be making them play. They needed a spell," Meninga said.

The All Stars concept last year came into question because of concerns about scheduling and a large number of player withdrawals.

Meninga did pick Jake Trbojevic and Jake Friend who were part of the Kangaroos squad but they were given the all clear because of limited game time during the Four Nations.

Former Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell is in the starting team while New Zealand-born Sosaia Feki is on the interchange bench.

The Indigenous All Stars have named several Kangaroos representatives including Inglis, Thurston and Sam Thaiday.

Meninga said the game meant a lot to the indigenous people and pointed to the role rugby league played in reconciliation and addressing social issues.

World All Stars: Jarryd Hayne, David Mead, Joseph Leilua, Konrad Hurrell, Nene Macdonald, Mitchell Moses, Adam Reynolds, Nate Myles, Jake Friend, Jordan McLean, Gavin Cooper, Bryce Cartwright, Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Sosaia Feki, Sione Mata'utia, Sam Lisone, Moses Mbye, Tepai Moeroa, Jordan Turner.

Unavailables: Darius Boyd, Valentine Holmes, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Josh Dugan, Jordan Rapana, Cooper Cronk, Shaun Johnson, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith, Jesse Bromwich, Trent Merrin, Sam Burgess, Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: Matt Moylan, Aaron Woods, David Klemmer, Boyd Cordner, Matt Gillett, Tyson Frizell, Tohu Harris.

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