As worthy as Preston Campbell’s efforts are in celebrating the NRL’s indigenous players, tonight’s much-hyped NRL All Star game will be a farce. Nothing surer.

Megastars Darren Lockyer and Benji Marshall appear to share the author's lack of enthusiasm as they book-end coach Wayne Bennett on NRL All Stars photo day. Pic: Gregg Porteous.

While it’s inevitable that thousands of rugby league starved devotees jonesing for their first footy fix of the year will climb on board the Preston Campbell Express and tune in but what will it all mean apart from a few more dollars in the coffers of the NRL? Not very much.

Sure Preston Campbell and the others responsible for the concept have done great things to raise awareness of our Indigenous players and those players have in turn become potential role models for the Indigenous community and indeed all young Australians.

That is until one of them abuses the referee on the field or drinks a dozen too many and makes a goose of himself after the game. Players on both teams have proved themselves more than capable of that. Perhaps that’s where our focus could lie, eradicating any all star buffoons from the code.

All Star games and Pro Bowls, whatever you like to call them, mean nothing.

Take the NFL version for example – the Pro Bowl was this year played the week before the Super Bowl – without players from the two best teams. What a farce.

Or the upcoming NHL game where two captains pick their own line-ups in some sort of glorified draft like selecting sides for a junior high dodge ball game. What a farce.

These games, like the one on the Gold Coast on Saturday night are just another way for leagues around the world to try and make some extra coin at the expense of the players who are constantly complaining that they play too much footy. Or hockey. Or baseball.

There is no prize on the line, no higher honour, no real reward for the player. You can’t honestly tell me that a young player is out there thinking, instead of winning the comp or pulling on the maroon jersey for Queensland or the Green and Gold of Australia, “I want to wear the All Star jersey. In February.”

And what of the fans? Where is our reward, unless you count the fact we get to vote for the players. Woop-de-do. Or one from each NRL team that is. What a farce. I mean, with all due respect, there are a number of players that will take the field this weekend that are hardly stars.

For the most part it’s generally a few hours of below par sport where the risks far outweigh the benefits. Now I might be talking through my wallet or bleating with a healthy dose of anticipation in my team’s hopes this year but I don’t want to see my “star” injured ahead of the main event that I’ve bought season tickets for.

That would be a blow to a real fan. Just ask Kurt Gidley and the Knights.

The truth is, games played with nothing on the line, not even the first grade jersey that a measly trial game offers, should not be played. They are a farce and they are an insult to real fans.

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    • Seano says:

      08:33am | 12/02/11

      Seriously dude why was the game played with such passion last year? Why was it such a belter of a game?

      This is game was a fantastic idea which lead to a great game of footy last year. And I suspect it will again this season because now there’s a rivalry. Not only is it a fantastic way to promote positive messages to and about indigenous people but it also gives a lot of players who might never get to play representative footy otherwise and it gets the fans involved.

      It might not mean anything as far as silverware is concerned but as you point out those of us real fans who are jonesing for a fix of footy it is a fantastic way to open the season.

      Jez dude judging from this article you’d boo Santa.
      PS. To quote Billy Idol “I love my footy”

    • TChong says:

      08:53am | 12/02/11

      Agree Seano.
      Dave, heres a bit of a tip, if you are so against it all, dont watch.
      The players , many with fairly well paying contracts, will be asked to do what they are paid for.
      As for the drinking etc- not a good look,but remember, they arent in gaol, or the ADF etc.
      Providing they do nothing illegal- give ‘em a break.

    • Matt B says:

      09:41am | 12/02/11

      Apart from the apparent need to quote Billy Idol I fully agree Seano. Such a harsh attack from David, yes the all start game is a marketing and money making venture and yes it has little real meaning in the scope of competitive sport.

      Though isn’t entertainment one of the primary goals of any sporting event (at least were spectators are concerned).?The All star game gives punters a chance to start their viewing season on a high note. We get to watch top line players combine and play together, warm up the shoulders and play with a freedom that can often not be afforded in more serious fixtures. I don’t see anything farcical or insulting about that.

      Granted the real NRL All-star game is State of Origin, and many sporting contest (of any type)pale in comparison with that epic struggle.

      Also It’s strange David is bemoaning the drunken extra curricular activities of NRL players. You’d think someone in sports PR would be shouting every box-head a drink post match.

    • Ernie says:

      01:28pm | 12/02/11

      Well said. As for your mis-interpretation of the American All-Star games you are WAY off. Check out any past MLB, NHL, NFL or NBA stars stats and you’ll see a column titled ‘All-Star Appearances’ or something similiar. Ask Kobe Bryant how he feels about being voted in as an All-Star for the 13th time? Despite the fact he plays this game only months prior to defending their championship? This game is live into 200 countries and 40 different languages. Are they ‘insulted’? Will league fans watching tonights game be ‘insulted’? I think you meant ‘exited’.

    • Seano says:

      06:13pm | 13/02/11

      I thought the Billy Idol quote was funny.

    • Davo from St Kilda says:

      08:59am | 12/02/11

      Strange how those north of the border call rugby ‘football’ considering they use their hands to move the ball around. Football means ‘foot’ on ‘ball’ and can only be applied to sports such as AFL and soccer. Rugby is in the same league with basketball and netball in that they just run around throwing a ball with their hands. On the rare occasion that the ball is kicked in rugby, it barely goes 20 metres in an ugly, looping trajectory. You see better, longer, more accurate kicks at a high school football match. No rugby player could ever kick the footy 50 - 60 metres through the goal posts like footballers do every game. Malcolm blight famously kicked a goal from 80 metres out after the siren to win a match for North Melbourne in 1976. Your average rugby player would just shake in his boots in the same situation.

    • Mal says:

      11:00am | 12/02/11

      good point Davo and the “footballers” hoard photos of their mates posing nude.  Plus you get a point for missing.  You just wasted two minutes off my life

    • Jimbo says:

      11:17am | 12/02/11

      Davo - you might not have noticed that they run with the ball in hand in the gayFL. Ever asked yourself why ALF is only played in a few states in Australia. Let me tell you why - it’s a rubbish game.

    • Oz Rules says:

      11:22am | 12/02/11

      I agree Davo—-how anybody can get excited over such a game is beyond me…Skill is something that is not required in rugby!!

    • Brian B says:

      01:09pm | 12/02/11

      Davo, unlike you I do not denigrate other sports that people may choose to play or follow.

      You may, however, be interested to learn that the term “foot ball”, now “football”, originally referred to a variety of games in medieval Europe which were played on foot by peasants, as opposed to the gentry playing such sports as polo on horseback.

      Oh, and if you care to do some checking I think you will find some equally good kicking, (place, drop and punt), in the history of Rugby Union.

      Good luck to St. Kilda in the coming season.

    • gavin says:

      01:30am | 13/02/11

      game of league starts with foot on ball, therefore FOOTBALL.
      there would have been a fatality if malcom blite ever found himself on a league field, he would not last 5 minutes.

    • Matt B says:

      07:58am | 13/02/11

      For the record Davo,  I’m from Queensland and I call soccer football, NRL rugby league and RUGBY, rugby. 

      Fail to see any merit in your post. This cross-state sledging of sporting codes is boring at best. Of course most league players couldn’t kick a 50-60 goal. I’m fairly sure Ian Thorpe would be rubbish at pole vault, he doesn’t train for it.

      Besides, there’s very little difference between codes when it comes to sexual assault allegations and drunken behaviour.

    • Shane says:

      09:42am | 13/02/11

      As much as davo from st Kilda is a tool, Jimbo, you are right up there trying to out do him. ‘Gayfl’. Really, that’s supposed to be an insult? Grow up. 
      Also not sure about your ramblings on ‘they only play AFL in a few states’. AFL, like rugby, is played across the entire county with varying levels of interest.
      Just because someone else is being an idiot, Jimbo, does not mean you should respond in an equally inane manner.

    • Steve Putnam says:

      09:50am | 13/02/11

      Jarrod Hayne and Feleti Mateo trained with one of the AFL sides last year. The usual sort of mucking around took place including place kicking the Sherrin from a tee. They out-distanced their AFL rivals by 20 metres.

    • Seano says:

      02:29pm | 13/02/11

      Fairly typical of the misplaced arrogance of the AFL and its supporters.

      Firstly, if you want to be a purist only Association Football (what we call soccer) can honestly claim ownership of the term football, but how typical of the arrogant AFL clique to claim a title to which they’re not really entitled and then whinge about others using it.

      Secondly, there are any number of rugby league and union players who can kick a ball accurately over 50-60 metres. Only someone terminally arrogant or stupid enough to comment on a game they’ve obviously never watched would think that that skill was unqiue.

      Thirdly, whilst ignoring prime markets in other areas the AFL have arrogantly dropped a team in western Sydney when the Swans are opperating at a loss. And I can tell you as a teacher that despite the money your silly game is throwing around kids in Greater Western Sydney are still only interested in Rugby and Soccer.

      Finally, faced with Greg Inglis (195cm, 120kg) who can run the hundred in 12 seconds your average AFL player would piss themselves.

      PS. What’s more exciting, a bloke pulling his socks up and testing the win for three minutes before kicking a long range goal or Greg Inglis busting through three tackles to score a match winner after the bell?  No contest.

    • Jason says:

      09:07pm | 13/02/11

      Davo, I like AFL too, but no need to be a w***er. It’s humourous that of the sports you cite - AFL, Soccer, Basketball, Netball and Rugby - only AFL has totally failed to be even noticed internationally. Unless you count your St Kilda players who claim they took nude photos of each other and got lampooned in Taiwan. In any case, it’s still a good sport. In Australia, our culture is to aim to be sports connoisseurs but we’re all embarrassed for you on your total lack of sports knowledge. Maybe give up searching wikipedia for factoids and actually try watching or playing some sport. In the meantime, don’t mention you’re Aussie when you travel. Geez.

    • Aaron Johnston says:

      09:12am | 12/02/11

      Geez, what a poor article. You are right in saying that players would prefer to represent their country, but is that any reason not to play this game? Who cares if there is nothing on the line? It is an enjoyable start to the season for fans and this is only is 2nd year. Perhaps in time, players will become more passionate about it.

      You closing statement that this is an insult to fans is stupid mate. I would be interested in seeing how many ‘‘insulted’’ fans tune in tonight to watch the match. Your arguments waver and wander all over the place in a pretty thinly constructed attempt at saying….. what is it you are actually saying? What is the point you are trying to make?

    • mona says:

      09:36am | 12/02/11

      Someone has really missed the point.

      The money raised goes into indigenous programs btw.

    • Mary Monica Roche says:

      09:43am | 12/02/11

      the only alternative this weekend in this Year Of the Rabbit is the Charity Shield match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs against 2010 NRL Premiers St George Illawarra.
      So far after 25 encounters , St George Illawarra has won 14 fourteen Charity Shield matches to South Sydney’s 9 nine wins.
      South Sydney Rabbitohs have held the Charity Shield for five 5 out of the last 6 six years.

    • Davo from St Kilda says:

      11:28am | 12/02/11

      Wrong, Mary. The alternative this weekend is the most popular sport in the country and our only national sport - football. Carlton, Richmond and Collingwood are playing tonight and the vast majority of the country’s sporting fans will be watching. Together these three teams have 125,000 paid up members while the total number of members who follow rugby is less than that! People vote with their feet, Mary, and they aren’t walking to a silly game of rugby. They will all be headed to Etihad Stadium.

    • Seano says:

      02:33pm | 13/02/11

      NRL has better ratings that AFL (although you get more bums on seats).

      As for “our only national sport” bwhahahahahahaha….the arrogance of the AFL not to mention it really is a silly, boring overrated game is why I am many other sports fans have started to blank it completely. A game of Netball has more atheleticism and harder hits than your average game of AFL. And when it’s wet,’s a joke…unless you’re interested in blokes in short shorts wrestling in mud that is.

    • missy says:

      02:42pm | 13/02/11

      Yawn Davo, go watch the fumblethon that is the AFL. Why bother commenting on an article on the NRL, haven’t you better things to do? You don’t even know the difference between rugby and rugby league. Yep why don’t you stick to watching the AFL.

    • Andrew Martin says:

      04:30pm | 13/02/11

      Davo - a sport that is ignored by the states number 1 and 3 commercial markets, being Sydney and Brisbane.  A sport that has had 150 years to try and convince us that it is worth watching, and still has not managed to pique the interest of the masses.  A sport that was outrated on TV by Iron Chef on SBS in Sydney.  A sport that, despite all your protestations, is still seen by the average bloke north of your border as nothing but a pissweak nancy game that more closely resembles 36 blokes chasing a chook around a paddock.  A sport that we still laugh at when clowns like you try and put lipstick on a pig.  It’s still a pig mate.

      Thanks for the laugh, you keep cheering those points you get for missing and we up here will keep ignoring your game both on the box and at the turnstiles, whilst we focus on games that actually involve skill and international appeal.  Nobody up here even knew there was a chicken chase on last night, we were too busy watching the All-Stars game.  GWS will be your codes Vietnam, just wait and see.

    • AFR says:

      09:44am | 12/02/11

      A full stadium and a couple of million people watching it on the TV tonight might think it means something….

    • Simonious says:

      11:17am | 12/02/11

      Exactly AFR. David says these games mean nothing. But David i will give you a tip. They mean we get to watch a game and to most fans thats good enough for us.

    • L. says:

      01:31pm | 12/02/11

      I seriously doubt a “couple of million” will be watching it on TV when TV’s highest rated shows draw 700 hundred thousand or so.

    • Robz says:

      08:32pm | 13/02/11

      A full stadium?  Really?  There were less people at this year’s game than there were at last year’s.  I went last year and came away fairly unimpressed with the standard of the game and chose not to go this year - I went to the Broncos trial match instead, as that quite frankly means more to me

      The concept itself has both good and flawed aspects.  I would prefer that it is not all focussed on the Indigenous side. They spend the week doing clinics etc for disadvantaged indigenous youth, which is fantastic; but why can’t they also do clinics for disadvantaged non-indigenous youth?  Don’t they also need role models and opportunities?

      And to be fair the teams should both be selected along the same lines. If the NRL All Stars can only have one representative from each club, why not have the same deal for the Indigenous All Stars?  Each NRL club has at least 1 indigenous player, so this could be done.  Alternatively let the NRL All Stars team be a true NRL All Stars without the limitation of the one player per club situation - same as the Indigenous team.

      As an exhibition match it’s not a bad way to start a season; but we need to not get too carried away and remember that it is just that - an exhibition match and nothing more.

    • mary monica roche says:

      09:45am | 12/02/11

      The ALL Star Game is the first State Of Origin Match for the year.Its played with that much intensity.

    • mik says:

      10:06am | 12/02/11

      There is nothing “fine” about the Apartheid Cup.

    • marley says:

      12:42pm | 12/02/11

      The whole point of apartheid was that whites never had to compete with blacks.

    • happy gilmore says:

      12:40pm | 12/02/11

      David, you own a sports PR company in Sydney and are married to a very understanding wife with whom you have a son. Your life seems amazing having lived & loved sport at the highest level - so why so cynical?

    • biff says:

      01:50pm | 12/02/11

      The selection in one of these teams is based on race. Wouldn’t that seem to promote racism?

    • BK says:

      02:25pm | 13/02/11

      It depends on which team wins. When the non-aboriginal team won, it challenged the stereotype of aboriginal people being tougher and better at sports.

    • James says:

      02:16pm | 12/02/11

      Obviously didn’t watch the game last year David. What a negative article about such a positive game. Guess when the players behave for a change, it gets harder to write something negative about them.

    • 21c Apartheid says:

      03:29pm | 12/02/11

      I hate it. Only in racist Australia is it fine to have a sports match (sports is generally designed to bring people together) which segregates on ethnicity.

      Imagine the EPL ‘Players of West Indian or African all stars’ and then understand the 1930’s buttock clenching absurdity of this ‘event’. It shames us and exposes us for what we are: Backwards and insular.

      Of course, all the knuckle draggers will say it’s a ‘great event’ and indigenous communities are so oppressed that they will take any exposure handed to them which in itself is saddening. The All-stars concept is embarrassing in every regard.

      Ask any non-Australian black person what they think of the all-stars and then tell me it’s not an utter disgrace.

      The Apartheid Cup. Live and happening in 21c Australia.

    • Simonious says:

      09:13am | 13/02/11

      As someone pointed out above Apartheid was about blacks not competing with white in sport. It was segregated. If you find the all stars concept so offensive you might be surprised to know that i was the brainchild of an indigenous player not a white guy. I think you slander the indigenous communites with your comment “indigenous communities are so oppressed that they will take any exposure handed to them”. And last but not least dont you think that game last night didnt “bring people together”  their were apologies and a minutes silence for the stolen generation. All in all it was a celebration of indigenous contribution to Australia but you wouldnt know because you didnt watch it did you.

    • Steve Putnam says:

      09:36am | 13/02/11

      How is this exhibition game ‘embarrassing in every regard’? How is the Indigenous All-Stars concept an example of 21st Century Apartheid as you and others are claiming? Would not the same then apply to a troupe of Aboriginal musicians or dancers?
      Let me say at the outset that I can’t claim any neutrality here, having had All Stars manager Sol Bellear as a good mate for 25 years, but I make the following points:
      When the blackfellers won the first game last year it was confirmation of what a lot of us had long suspected; namely that a team comprised of players with an indigenous heritage could compete with the best. 
      It gives an opportunity for young players to mix with established stars, and for mentoring to take place, which is something rugby league players of all backgrounds could do with.
      It raises a large sum of money for worthwhile causes.
      It has the potential to evolve into a concept similar to The Barbarians matches in rugby union which have provided so many great spectacles over the years.
      And lastly it gives us, as Australians, an opportunity to celebrate diversity within our unity which is the hallmark of any great society.

    • marley says:

      01:27pm | 13/02/11

      @21c Apartheid - so you figure that only in “racist Australia” would you have sports matches segregated on ethnicity.  I guess you’d have real problems with the North American Indigenous Games, then,  and with the forthcoming World Indigenous Games, scheduled to be held next year in Canada.

    • Waynevan says:

      06:09pm | 12/02/11

      We hear it’s all about the indigenous players playing for their people and their culture which is fine but what about the other team. What are they playing for? Dare we say they’re playing for what they are not (ie aboriginal)? I think not.

    • greg says:

      07:09pm | 12/02/11

      I think the black v white all stars is a great game…

      Go the white fellas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Seano says:

      02:00pm | 13/02/11

      There were a number of different ethnicities on display in both teams.

    • Michael says:

      12:18am | 13/02/11

      Davo from St Kilda,  Cricket is our only national sport,  AFL is irrelevant in the most populated section of Australia,  The east coast…  The only attention AFL gets is the weekly assaults charges that its players get involved in.

    • Mitchy B says:

      08:18am | 13/02/11

      Players play for money,  fame and their fans every time they put on their boots.  Some even play cause they love it, their club and their teamates.  And everyone wants to be picked in the rep teams. 

      Don’t make out the greedy administrators force these concepts on the fans.  What a silly thing to say to all those people who cheered, jeered and had a good time at last night.

    • S.L says:

      05:52pm | 13/02/11

      I’ve been looking forward to the start of footy season because I’ve missed the comments of Davo and his ilk. League is the main televised sport where I live but I follow soccer. Both these sports and Union co-exist up here but the AFL guys have the attitude there code is the only code. I laugh when I’m in Melbourne and read the sports pages and all I see even at christmas time is AFL. Get a life guys!
      The All Stars game is the only chance to see Benji Marshall and Darren Lockyer play on the same team so for what ever reason that has to be a plus!

    • pablo says:

      08:39pm | 13/02/11

      Okay to date this exhibition game has been played in the right spirit - following the apology, the stolen generation and all that - but going forward a couple of years and the media will want a new angle.  Individual players in the game build up will be ‘fired up’ and the chance of an on-field brawl will become all too real. The fact that it will be characterised as ‘black versus white’ even if it is more a couple of individual personalities won’t matter. It will take a lot of explaining by the NRL. Better to have this sort of racial selection playing overseas visiting teams such as the NZ Maori do in rugby union if you don’t want to take the risk with the inevitable media boredom that will come with this spectacle.

    • BAM says:

      11:29am | 14/02/11

      Epic load of tangental comments from all and sundry. The point of this article is that the all star concept is outdated and tired. The world knows it. Regardless of any good intentions, contrary to what is promoted, the AS game does not actually resault in a high caliber contest. It is gimmicky. Genuine competition is the essence to sport and is what makes it saleable (in terms of following not money). Once this is worked out, and the novelty wears off, sales will drop (ie: bums on seats, players willing to take part). This is the experience in America; which (before you rubbish it) is one that is always worthwhile referring to because they’re ahead of the sporting curve and we can always learn from their good/bad experiences.
      The AS game is not equivalent to club trial matches which allow for game fitness, selection processes and combination development to take effect. The AS game is not a rep game as it is at the start of the season and as such does not provide a reward for players who have excelled through multiple rounds.
      Indigenous causes should be promoted - do it at the origin and internationals - on a bigger stage with more meaning.
      Great discussion promoting opinion piece. And to the clowns saying that D Lyall is being cynical - he is not, he is being critical which is a good thing.


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