Ponga v Latrell in mouth watering NRL All Stars clash
QUEENSLAND whiz kid Kalyn Ponga and recently recruited Rabbitoh Latrell Mitchell will go head-to-head in next month's highly anticipated All Stars clash on the Gold Coast.
The NRL unveiled the squads for the Indigenous and Maori squads ahead of the star-studded match at Cbus Super Stadium on February 22.
Ponga has been selected for the Maori All Stars side alongside the Storm giant Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Warriors halfback Kodi Nikorima.
Ponga will line up at fullback for the Maori side after playing at five-eighth in last year's match.
Maori All Stars coach David Kidwell said fullback was where Ponga played best.
"Kalyn will be playing at fullback and that contest with Latrell Mitchell … it will be the price of admission for itself to see," Kidwell said.
"Kalyn will definitely be playing at fullback. He's young, skilful, he's dynamic.
"I think that's his best position. That's where he's most comfortable. He can swing both sides of the field."
Indigenous All Stars coach Laurie Daley has named Mitchell in his side, as well as Brisbane sensation David Fifita and Melbourne flyer Josh Addo-Carr.
Mitchell is also set to line up in the fullback role for the Indigenous All Stars, despite not playing in the No.1 jersey since his debut year in 2016.
Daley said he never hesitated in his decision to play the South Sydney recruit at fullback in the upcoming All Stars match.
"I didn't (hesitate) because the votes suggested he always play at fullback," Daley said on NRL.com.
"Fitness-wise, I hope he's up to speed.
"I say he won't be there for the whole 80 minutes. Depending how he goes, he might have a spell.
"I've done it with Greg Inglis before. Those outside backs I tell them they might share it around.
"I'm looking forward to having Latrell there. He could be the best player in the competition if he wants to be. Hopefully he's set for a big year."
Daley's squad are looking to defend their 34-14 win over the Maori side in last year's fixture in Melbourne.
Only Maori selection Esan Masters remains under an injury cloud for the match, having suffered an ankle injury towards the end of last year.
It will be the first time the All Stars exhibition will be played on the Gold Coast since its inception a decade ago and just the second time the Indigenous side play the Maori All Stars - who replaced the World All Stars team in the previous encounters.
The ARL Commission is also likely to make a decision next week on whether to scrap the performance of national anthems before the All Stars match.
Several players snubbed the singing of Advance Australia Fair before last year's match in Melbourne and is likely to do the same again this year.
The contentious issues is likely to be discussed during the upcoming ARL Commission meeting on February 6.
Malakai Watene Zelezniak
Tanika Jazz Bell-Noble
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