NRL: Four 'Aussies' named in New Zealand Māori All-Stars team

Kalyn Ponga and James Tamou
Kalyn Ponga and James Tamou will play for the New Zealand Māori. Photo credit: AAP

Four 'Australian' players have been named in the New Zealand Māori All-Stars squad to face the Indigenous All-Stars at AAMI Park in Melbourne on February 15.

Winger Dane Gagai, five-eighth Kalyn Ponga and prop Jordan McLean have all been included in the starting side, with forward James Tamou named on the bench.

While they have Māori heritage, Gagai, Ponga, McLean and New Zealand-born Tamou have made themselves ineligible to represent New Zealand, after adopting Australia as their rugby league country.

The Māori side also features a quartet of Warriors players with Peta Hiku at fullback, Tohu Harris and Adam Blair in the back row, and Gerard Beale on the bench.

The rest of the team is littered with New Zealand internationals, with only halfback Jahrome Hughes and second rower Corey Harawira-Naera yet to play for the Kiwis.

Hughes was named in the Kiwis squad for their recent tour of England, but didn't play, while Harawira-Naera was originally selected, but pulled out due to injury.

Kiwis and Warriors legend Stacey Jones will coach the team, with World Cup-winning Kiwis captain Nathan Cayless as his assistant.  

The Australian Indigenous All-Stars team are filled with many Origin players, including New South Wales quartet Andrew Fifita, Blake Ferguson, James Roberts and Josh Addo-Carr.

Sydney Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell is the biggest surprise selection, opting to represent the Australian Indigenous side over his club team, which face Wigan in the World Club Challenge in the UK two days later.

Mitchell said it was a tough decision, but he had the blessing of Roosters coach Trent Robinson and club officials.

New Zealand Māori All Stars: 1-Peta Hiku, 2-Dane Gagai, 3-Esan Marsters, 4-Dean Whare, 5-Jordan Kahu, 6-Kalyn Ponga, 7-Jahrome Hughes, 8-Jesse Bromwich, 9-Brandon Smith, 10-Jordan McLean, 11-Kevin Proctor, 12-Tohu Harris, 13-Adam Blair.

Interchange: 14-Danny Levi, 15-Brad Takairangi, 16-James Fisher-Harris, 17-James Tamou, 18-Gerard Beale, 19-Corey Harawira-Naera, 20-Joseph Tapine. 

Indigenous All Stars: 1-Ben Barba 2-Blake Ferguson, 3-James Roberts, 4-Latrell Mitchell, 5-Josh Addo-Carr, 6-Cody Walker, 7-Tyrone Roberts, 8-Andrew Fifita, 9-Nathan Peats, 10-TBA, 11-David Fifita, 12-Adam Eliott, 13-Tyrone Peachey

Interchange: 14-Will Chambers, 15-Leilani Latu, 16-Chris Smith, 17-Alex Johnston, 18-Jesse Ramien, 19-Tyrell Fuimaono, 20-Kotoni Staggs