The annual All-Stars match has opened the 2022 NRL season in the most perfect way before the first ball had even been kicked off.
Even before kick-off, the annual All-Stars match has got off to the perfect start as both sides delivered stunning, passionate war dances.
Both pre-match displays were different to previous years and left the NRL world stunned.
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While some people whistled and yelled out during the moment of silence held in respect for members of the stolen generation, there was also a brief tribute to Norm Provan, Johnny Raper and Olsen Filpaina, all three who died during the off-season.
But the pre-game cultural displays, which have become an amazing way to open the season arguably ramped it up this season in a stunning display.
Starting with the Maori side, the players did an incredibly passionate haka, ending up nose to nose with the Indigenous All-Stars players.
Fox League’s Jake Duke explained why the side didn’t do the haka most of the world expect from a New Zealand side.
“What a terrific display of culture we just saw, spine-tingling stuff,” Duke said. “You might have noticed that haka was a little bit different to the normal haka that we see Kiwi sides do.
“That Maori haka is used to summon the ancestral world to the living world for this occasion, giving strength, guidance and protection.”
On the Indigenous All-Stars side, several players wore war paint while every player had a spear and performed a different dance for the occasion.
Duke explained: “They’ve gone away from the huddle, every player had a spear and every player had a boomerang. That is to show respect and justice. If you don’t bring the respect, they’ll bring the justice. That’s what those two artefacts represent.
“Also notice the Torres Strait Islander headdresses the boys were wearing, that was to pay homage to their Torres Strait Islander brothers who make up the team and make up the First Nations people of Australia. A terrific display of culture, that also symbolises respect, it also means we are here for war.”
Fox League commentator Greg Alexander said the display justifies the match’s existence.
“There are always some questions raised before this game but you only have to cast your mind back to some of the tribal dances the boys have performed before the games to say it’s worthwhile just watching those,” he said. “Fantastic stuff from both teams.”
Rugby league commentator Chris Warren called the display “Spine-tingling”.
NITV news producer Robert Grasso tweeted: “Always great to get a taste of the new NRL season with the Indigenous v Māori All Stars game. Such immense contributions to the game both. Amazing talent over the decades.”
Rabbitohs player Jacob Host wrote: “WOW. Goosebumps”.
Broadcaster Stephen McIvor added: “Have to say the Maori All Stars challenge was simply breathtaking!!”
The passion spilled into the game as well as Indigenous player Andrew Fifita was sin binned just before the end of the first quarter as referee Adam Gee said he caused the flare up.
He also sent Maori player Jordan Rapana.
Just before Rapana was sent, he gave Fifita a send off, and a fired up Fifita appeared to point back and give a warning for when he’s back on the field.
At quarter-time, it’s 6-0 to the Indigenous side.