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Indigenous v Maori All Stars games return to Townsville in 2024

Jarred Cross -

Townsville will host the rugby league's annual cultural representative clash and season curtain-raiser in February, the NRL confirmed on Friday.

The All Stars games, played between men's and women's Indigenous and Māori side's, return to Country Bank Stadium for a second time after hosting in 2021.

In 2023, the games ventured across the Tasman to Aotearoa to recognise the 50th anniversary of the inaugural Australian Indigenous rugby league side to tour the country.

Queensland hosted the First All Stars games on the Gold Coast between 2010-2015, then-featuring the NRL All Stars against a First Nations team, before moving to feature a World All Stars side in 2016.

The Māori All Stars made their first appearance at Narrm's AAMI Park in 2019.

The two men's sides share bragging rights with two wins a piece in the years since, including a 10-all draw in Townsville the last time they met in North Queensland - thanks to a penalty goal from Latrell Mitchell to make things square at the death with no extra time.

"After a successful match in New Zealand in 2023, All Stars returns to Townsville to kick off the 2024 season," NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said.

"The full week of community engagement, education and cultural activities is unique and unrivalled in sport. There is no better way to celebrate the start of our season."

2023's Indigenous All Stars men's line up boasted some of the competition's best with the likes of Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker, Jack Wighton, Nicho Hynes and Selwyn Cobbo featuring.

Cobbo's hatrick in Rotorua proved the difference in the 28-24 win.

Broncos five-eighth Gayle Broughton was named best-on-ground as the Māori All Stars clinched a 16-12 win at home in the women's contest.

The All Stars games are set for Townsville's Country Bank Stadium on February 15.

The NRL have also released their Pre-Season Challenge fixture to kick off in the same week.

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