NRL All Stars to be a week-long celebration of cultures

By James Perry

The people of Melbourne will get to experience the indigenous cultures of both Australia and New Zealand throughout the week.

New Zealand Māori Rugby League chairman, John Devonshire says there will be a number of external activities planned, including school visits, gala events and sponsors promotions.

"It's not just another Saturday afternoon game of footy," he says, adding that there will be cultural exchanges between the two women's and two men's teams.

There will be an official welcome for the four teams on the 11th of February in Melbourne, a dinner on the 13th and a jersey presentation on the day before the All Stars clash. 

The Māori Kiwis side was named on Thursday and while there are still some decisions to be made by coach Stacey Jones in terms of starting positions, Devonshire is thrilled by the Māori All Stars team named. 

"There's a lot of experience from one right through to twenty but, whoever puts that Māori jersey on, they're going to bring it and bring their whānau and their mana with them," he says from his Huntly base.

Devonshire is also looking forward to seeing the work of the Māori Ferns over the past few months come to fruition in a fortnight's time. 

"They've probably been training the hardest of the lot to be honest.  They're going Tuesdays-Thursdays now.  They've had a couple of camps, they're taking it very seriously and there's some great players amongst them as well."

The two Māori teams will assemble in Melbourne on the 10th of February.