With the community still buzzing from the recent NRL All Stars week in Newcastle, Jade Porter reckons the time is right to launch the region’s own event.
Porter was on hand to unveil the uniforms at No.2 Sportsground on Tuesday along with fellow first graders Scott Briggs and Mark Taufua for what will be the inaugural Newcastle Rugby League All Stars fixture on March 4.
“The community is still buzzing from last week,” Porter said.
“It’s a great concept to have one here in Newcastle and something we’ve been trying to get up and running for years. Now it’s finally arrived I can’t wait.”
The match mirrors the one at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night – with players from each of the eight district clubs representing Indigenous and Newcastle teams in a pre-season spectacle celebrating rugby league’s diverse range of cultures.
Porter, who now helps manage the Garden Suburb-based Kirinari Hostel previously attended by Greg Inglis and Tyrone Roberts, will play in the halves alongside Indigenous co-captain Briggs with Taufua skippering the opposition.
“It’s bringing together the best players in Newcastle,” Porter said.
Indigenous coach Ash Gordon touted a few rule changes, including five-minute power plays where teams drop two players.
Under-23 and ladies league tag games are also expected to make the program.
Meanwhile, reigning Newcastle first grade champions Souths will tackle Concord Burwood while grand finalists Macquarie take on Blacktown in round one of the inaugural NSW Challenge.
Eight teams are part of the new-look knockout tournament with the Lions lining up at Leichhardt Oval on March 29 and the Scorpions following at home at Lyall Peacock Field on April 5.
Winners progress to the semi-finals at Leichhardt on April 12. The decider will be a curtain-raiser at Mudgee on May 7 before the last Country-City Origin representative match.
INDIGENOUS ALL STARS: Ryan Walker, Matt Simon, Steve Gordon, Brad Tighe, Josh Charles, Scott Briggs, Jade Porter, Adam Swadling, Chris Adams, Mick Campton, Simon Allen, Warren Schillings, Randall Briggs, Andy Sumner, Isaac Briggs, Jamie Ghoulmieh, Jacob Gagai, Daniel French, Daniel Nielson, PJ Ellis.
NEWCASTLE ALL STARS: Cal Richardson, Chris Pyne, Royce Geoffrey, Simon Williams, Tyme Dow-Nikau, Terence Seu Seu, Brad Murray, Mark Taufua, Chris Hyde, Brendon Simpson, Marvin Filipo, Pater Mannion, Blake Gallen, Liam Higgins, Uti Baker, Jake Finn, Dylan Hartin, Geordie Connelly, Rob Mason, Jack Kelly.