NRL All-Stars: Māori captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak calls on NRL to bring annual game to New Zealand

Māori All Stars co-captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has called on the NRL to bring the annual All-Stars game to New Zealand to showcase the Māori culture. 

Some of the best players in the game will kick-start the new rugby league season, when the Indigenous and Maori All-Star teams face off in Townsville on Saturday. 

Starting in 2010, the annual game has been held in Australia over the nine previous editions, but Watene-Zelezniak feels it's time to shift the event to New Zealand, so the Māori team can showcase their culture. 

"I think it would be massive," Watene-Zelezniak says. "I know the Māori people back in New Zealand are really passionate about our culture as well. 

"I know the boys are really passionate about it, so to take the game back home and showcase our culture to the indigenous people over in Australia would be awesome. 

"We are pretty similar in ways and I think they would enjoy getting to know us too, and our backgrounds and where we come from."

The captain joked that the players would be treated and feed like kings if the game was moved across the ditch but did feel it would help grow the game. 

"They would be feed like kings over there too and that's another positive," he jokes. "Just for the game in general, it would be good for the NRL to be able to see our culture, where we come from and how we came about."

The idea has the backing from rival captain Cody Walker, who feels his side need to take a lot of learning off the Māori side, who know their culture much better than his Indigenous side.  

"For sure and it's one of the things we are envious about," Walker says. "They are really knowledgeable about their culture and know their language very fluently, whereas our language is lost.

"We need to find it again, so it's something I would be open to and to see New Zealand in a different light would be cool."

Join us at 10pm for live updates as the Maori All-Stars face the Indigenous All-Stars