Ahead of the seventh annual NRL All Stars clash in Newcastle tonight, Flashback Friday takes a look back at the inaugural encounter in 2010.
A near sell-out crowd of 26,687 packed Skilled Park on the Gold Coast for the new concept – and there were very few of the withdrawals that mark the All Stars encounter these days. Check out these fan-voted line-ups:
Indigenous All Stars: Preston Campbell (c), Nathan Merritt, Ty Williams, Beau Champion, Wendell Sailor, Scott Prince, Johnathan Thurston, George Rose, Ben Jones, Carl Webb, Cory Paterson, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Sam Thaiday. Int: Jamie Soward, Yileen Gordon, Greg Bird, Jharal Yow Yeh, Travis Waddell, Joel Thompson, Blake Ferguson. Coach: Neil Henry.
NRL All Stars: Jarryd Hayne, Israel Folau, Michael Jennings, Matt Cooper, Manu Vatuvei, Darren Lockyer (c), Benji Marshall, Adam Blair, Cameron Smith, Sam Burgess, Anthony Watmough, David Shillington, Luke O’Donnell. Int: Kurt Gidley, Anthony Tupou, Nate Myles, Robbie Farah, Luke Bailey, Josh Morris, Brett Finch. Coach: Wayne Bennett.
The match got off to an incredible start, with an All Stars moment that will arguably never be topped coming after just two minutes.
In his last competitive game of rugby league, 35-year-old Indigenous All Stars winger Wendell Sailor latched onto Johnathan Thurston grubber to score the first try, before using the corner-post as a didgeridoo as his teammates danced around him.
Ben Jones gave the Indigenous side a 10-0 halftime lead after diving over from dummy-half, but the NRL All Stars snapped into action midway through the second stanza, posting three unanswered (and unconverted) tries in the space of eight minutes to grab a 12-10 lead.
The inaugural All Stars showdown received the grandstand finish it deserved when Thurston brilliantly put Jamie Soward away down the sideline at the 74-minute mark. The Dragons playmaker raced 60 metres to score the match-winner.
Thurston won the Preston Campbell Medal – named in honour of the concept’s architect, who also captained the victorious Indigenous team – as man-of-the-match.
NRL ALL STARS GAME 2010
Indigenous All Stars 16 (Wendell Sailor, Ben Jones, Jamie Soward tries; Johnathan Thurston 2 goals) d. NRL All Stars 12 (Josh Morris, Benji Marshall, Michael Jennings tries) at Skilled Park, Gold Coast on Saturday, February 13, 2010.