Victoria’s five-day lockdown and subsequent Queensland border closure has forced the NRL to name replacements for seven Melbourne players unavailable for the All Stars clash in Townsville.
Winger Josh Addo-Carr will miss out for the Indigenous All Stars with Gold Coast’s Corey Thompson called in.
The Maori All Stars have lost the services of Reimis Smith, Jahrome Hughes, Jesse Bromwich, Brandon Smith, Kenneath Bromwich and Nelson Asofa-Solomona.
Coming into their 20-man squad are North Queensland trio Esan Marsters, Daejarn Asi and Emry Pere, Brisbane’s Issac Luke, Wests Tigers’ Russell Packer and Jackson Topine of Canterbury.
Next weeks NRL's All Stars match has been thrown into chaos by the Covid outbreak in Melbourne. The Maori All Stars are seeking replacements for the forced withdrawal of Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Jesse Bromwich, Brandon Smith and others #SportsTalkNZ #NRLAllStars #LeagueTalk pic.twitter.com/N810fYO2bB
— SportsTalkNZ (@Sports_Talk_NZ) February 13, 2021
The February 20 All Stars match will include 35-year-old New Zealand star Benji Marshall for the first time while South Sydney fullback Latrell Mitchell is set to make his return to the field in the pre-season showpiece, in his first game since rupturing his hamstring last season.
NRL officials were unable to get secure government travel exemptions for the Storm players to get into Queensland after the state closed its borders at 1am on Saturday morning to anyone who has been in the greater Melbourne area in the past 14 days.
Victoria imposed what Premier Dan Andrews called a five-day “short, sharp circuit breaker” in response to COVID-19 cases being linked to a quarantine hotel.
NRL All Stars teams
Indigenous: Latrell Mitchell, Blake Ferguson, Jack Wighton, Jesse Ramien, Alex Johnston, Cody Walker, Jamal Fogarty, Andrew Fifita, Reuben Cotter, Josh Kerr, David Fifita, Tyrell Fuimaono, Tyrone Peachey, Corey Thompson, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, Cade Cust, Chris Smith, Zac Saddler, Josh Curran, Brian Kelly. Coach: Laurie Daley
Maori: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Joseph Manu, Dylan Walker, Patrick Herbert, Jarome Luai, Benji Marshall, Russell Packer, Jeremy Marshall-King, James Fisher-Harris, Briton Nikora, Jordan Riki, Joseph Tapine, Issac Luke, Emry Pere, Zane Musgrove, Jackson Topine, Esan Marsters, Bailey Simonsson, Daejarn Asi. Coach: David Kidwell