The 2019 National Rugby League season will kick off with a clash between the Australian Indigenous All Stars and the New Zealand Maori Kiwis, the NRL announced Monday.
The men’s and women’s teams will face off at AAMI Park in Melbourne on February 15.
NRL stars including Melbourne Storm’s Josh-Addo Carr and Jesse Bromwich, Sydney Roosters’ Nakia Davis-Welsh, and St George Illawarra Dragon Honey Hireme, attended a launch for the event on Monday.
Details of who will make up the teams to meet in the matches are to be released closer to the date.
Australian Rugby League chair and federal Labor MP Linda Burney, a Wiradjuri woman, said the power and pride across all four teams would be on display.
“Some of the most exciting, energetic and engaging players emanate from both First Nations cultures,” Ms Burney said.
“What better way to celebrate the return of rugby league for another year than to kick off the season with a match that prides itself on being more than just a game; but an opportunity to educate and empower communities long after the full-time whistle.”
NRL head of football Brian Canavan said there was strong support for the matches among fans and players.
“The All Stars concept has been popular with crowds across the country and abroad since it first commenced back in 2010,” Mr Canavan said.
“In 2019, we’re taking the All Stars to another level – paying homage to Australian and New Zealand First Nations cultures and celebrating the unique bond between both countries.”
Victoria’s Tourism and Major Events minister John Eren said he was looking forward to watching the teams go head-to-head.
“This is more than just a great sporting spectacle — it is a celebration of Indigenous culture both on and off the field,” he said.
Tickets are on sale to NRL club members from $20 and family passes from $45. Non-member tickets are priced from $25 for an adult and $50 for a family.