Rugby league: Māori All Stars co-captain Joseph Tapine vows to lead by example in annual culture clash

Māori All Stars co-captain Joseph Tapine has promised to lead by example, as New Zealand prepares to host the Indigenous All Stars for the first time.

Rotorua International Stadium will stage the annual culture clash on Saturday, with the NRL's best showcasing their heritage and skill.

Canberra's Tapine has been named co-captain, alongside premiership-winning Penrith Panthers prop James Fisher-Harris.

With several big-name players ruled out of the fixture with injuries, new coach Ben Gardiner has been entrusted Tapine to steer the inexperienced call-ups in the right direction.

"I love it," he said. "Me and Fisher are similar in how we lead, we lead through action.

"I know me and the bro are going to go hard in the middle, and try and show the boys the way.

"For the young fellas, it's a good experience for them, getting this high-level footy against a quality side. That's what they need and what they strive for, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they do.

"Benny is very passionate [about] everything footy and he's really bought into the culture side of stuff. I'm loving what he's doing in camp and looking forward to playing for him."

Both the Māori and Indigenous All Stars have been welcomed with a pōwhiri, with the importance of the ceremony not lost on the players.

Tapine is thriving in the environment and hopes the annual showpiece can become a regular feature in New Zealand.

Joseph Tapine in action for the NZ Kiwis
Joseph Tapine in action for the NZ Kiwis. Photo credit: Photosport

"It was very emotional, a lot of goosebumps, and beautiful - two cultures coming together. I haven't experienced anything like that," he said.

"That's one of my goals every year. I want to come into this camp and learn more about my Māori side and where I come from.

"It's huge, they were saying [we] were waiting five years, but really [it's] probably longer. Having this game back in front of our people and our family - it's going to be huge.

"Yeah definitely, taking turns. Being more frequent bringing it back home - that will be the ultimate goal."

Join us at 5:30pmn Saturday for live updates of the NRL Indigenous v Māori game