Indigenous grab double over Māori All Stars

The “people and culture” were the winner on a day when both Māori All Stars teams were handed defeats by the Indigenous All Stars in Townsville on Friday.

The wāhine Māori lost 26-4 as the Indigenous recorded the biggest victory of their rivalry, while the tāne Māori were beaten 22-14 after trailing 16-8 at the break in North Queensland.

Māori Women’s All Stars coach Keith Hanley said they were off the mark in several areas.

“In short, we really didn’t hold or secure the ball well enough, a lot of turnovers, and we missed some tackles that I think normally wouldn’t be missed. When those things happen it’s a pretty simple game.”

Meanwhile, Adam Blair got a first taste of coaching at this level with the tāne Māori.

“Bit of an introduction to coaching isn’t it?” Blair remarked after the game.

“There’s got to be a winner at the end of the day and there’s always a loser as well.

“Although I’m, I guess, disappointed for us as a group, the winner on the day, obviously, is rugby league but also the people and the culture.”

Blair paid tribute to the Indigenous players.

“There was moments throughout that game that we had our opportunities, we built enough pressure but you got to give credit to the Indigenous boys.”

The Indigenous laid it all on the line, Blair said, especially in the third quarter when the Māori spent almost 20 minutes on the opposition try line. “They scrambled really well. They worked hard for each other.

“This is what this game does when you’re representing your people, something different is on the line when you’re out there. And they showed what that meant to play for each other.”

Indigenous captain Latrell Mitchell echoed Blair’s comments regarding the cultural significance of the occasion.

“Our whole concept about this week is letting our ancestors know that we’re here to represent our communities, community’s everything. Culture first, our family and then footie,” he said.

“We get to be proud of who we are, both sides of the spectrum – Māori and Indigenous All Stars.”