Rugby league: Māori All Stars star Jordan Riki explains emotional try against Indigenous All Stars

With the Rotorua crowd in a frenzy, and the score locked at 16-all between the Māori and Indigenous All Stars, Jordan Riki tried to hold back tears, after his rampaging try. 

In a Herculean effort, Riki shrugged off desperate defenders, fell to the ground, got up again, spun off another opponent and scored to level the game with 25 minutes remaining. As he did, he was overcome with emotion. 

The camera honed in on the tryscorer, who had a message for those marvelling at his efforts from their homes. 

"I love you, Hampo bro... I love you, bro," a breathless Riki told the camera. 

'Hampo' - friend and fellow rugby league player Liam Hampson - tragically died. while holidaying with Riki and a group of their mates in Europe last year. 

Riki, 23, dedicated the game and his outrageous try to Hampson and his family. 

Māori All Stars.
Māori All Stars. Photo credit: Getty Images

"That try, it's just really emotional for me," Riki told Newshub, as he gathered those emotions after the final whistle. 

"I dedicated that try and this game to him, Liam, and his family as well. Liam and his beautiful family, if you're watching, I love you and I'll see you guys very soon.

"I was trying to hold in tears, I guess. It was such a hard time for myself and my friends, and his family as well, so I just wanted to go out there and do his family proud. 

"I was trying to hold back tears, but it's one of those things and feelings I'll never forget."

The Brisbane Broncos enforcer of Tainui heritage was also out to do his family proud. 

Celebrating the first All Stars game hosted in New Zealand, the whole week was an emotional one for everybody, as players, staff and fans celebrated culture and friendship. 

"It's always an emotional week for me, obviously representing my whanau and culture, but bringing it home for the first time is an amazing and beautiful feeling," Riki said. "Playing in front of such a beautiful crowd here in Rotorua too - it's an experience I'll always cherish. 

"I remember pulling in on the bus and seeing the whole back side [of the ground] full there, I was just looking at the boys and straight away I got goosebumps.

"It was just an unreal feeling and it's always an unreal feeling representing the All Stars."

Those sentiments were echoed by all players across both fixtures, with the women's clash also an instant classic, both for the game itself and the atmosphere inside Rotorua International Stadium.

"It speaks for itself, you know," player-of-the-match Gayle Broughton told Newshub. "I can't really put into words how special it is to be back home.

"I'm sure we can put the little word out there that it could come back," she said.

"I know a lot of people, especially in Aussie, that are trying really hard to create pathways, especially for the younger generation back home to show you can play rugby league and you can be an NRLW superstar.

"If that's the standard we're setting, imagine what the next one's going to be like."

"This one's a special one, first one back home, having to grind for the win against our Indigenous sisters," Shanice Parker told Newshub. "It's giving me goosebumps just talking about it now.

"As soon as we stepped on the field... it makes it even more special for me now, because of my son, he's also Aboriginal and Māori. 

"We're just setting a platform for our wahine in New Zealand and hopefully we can bridge that gap soon, instead of our wahine having to travel over to Australia."