Mateo and Nielsen in All Stars teams
Tuesday 15 January 2013 8:32 AM
Two Vodafone Warriors players – utility Feleti Mateo and new signing Dane Nielsen – have been named in the All Stars teams for the fourth annual match at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday, February 9.
Mateo (28) becomes a two-time All Star after being voted into the 2013 NRL All Stars squad by the public as the Vodafone Warriors’ representative.
Nielsen (27) will make his debut after being chosen by Laurie Daley as one of the three coach’s selections in the Indigenous All Stars.
Mateo, who first played in the fixture in 2011, won the race for the club’s spot ahead of Shaun Johnson, Konrad Hurrell and 2012 Lion Red Player of the Year Ben Matulino.
“It’s a great honour and I’m really thankful to the fans who voted for me,” he said.
“There was tough competition from Shaun, Koni and Ben but I’m really excited to be given another shot. It was a great experience the first time and it’ll be huge to be among so many outstanding players again.”
After signing for the Vodafone Warriors in May last year, Nielsen went on to win his first NRL premiership with the Melbourne Storm before moving to Auckland.
Born in Mackay, he traces his ancestry to the tiny Darnley Island in the Torres Strait Islands group (which numbers some 270 islands in total).
“This is massive for my family being named in the Indigenous All Stars,” he said.
“It means so much to me and especially to our people. It’s going to be an unforgettable experience for everyone involved.”
Selection in the sides adds to a list of representative honours for both players.
Mateo finished last year representing the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII for the first time in their annual clash with Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby. He was also named in the Emerging Blues Origin squad and earlier in the season he was chosen for City Origin for the second time.
He’ll rack up some air miles in the coming weeks, travelling to Sydney to go into camp with the Emerging Blues on Friday and he'll then return to Sydney on February 2 to join the NRL All Stars where they’ll have some commitments before heading to Brisbane.
Nielsen made his representative breakthrough in 2011, playing twice for the victorious Queensland side in the State of Origin series and adding a third game in the 2012 campaign.
Meanwhile, former Internationals Willie Mason and Timana Tahu will make a stunning return to representative football as rivals after the Knights team-mates were named as ‘coach’s selections’.
Newcastle and NRL All Stars Coach Wayne Bennett chose Mason to make his All Stars debut alongside Adam Reynolds (Rabbitohs), James Tamou (Cowboys), Billy Slater (Storm) and Tim Grant (Panthers), while Tahu was chosen by Laurie Daley for his Indigenous All Stars side featuring seven newcomers. The others are Raiders’ trio Reece Robinson, Jake Foster and Jack Wighton, Aidan Sezer (Titans), Joel Romelo (Bulldogs) and Dane Nielsen (Warriors).
Indigenous All Stars captain Johnathan Thurston and Broncos NRL All Stars selection Ben Hannant joined Bennett and Daley in Brisbane today for the announcement of both squads for the fourth annual Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars match to be played at Suncorp Stadium for the first time on February 9.
More than 40,000 Rugby League fans have had their say via two online voting stages to select a representative from each of the 16 NRL Clubs in the 20-man NRL All Stars squad, while fans could choose from all of Rugby League’s best Indigenous talent for Daley’s Indigenous All Stars.
Following the closing of the public online voting on Monday, Bennett was able to select two extra players alongside automatic selections Benji Marshall (New Zealand captain) and Cameron Smith (Australian captain); while Daley could pick three extra players in addition to automatic selection (as captain) Thurston.
Bennett’s other ‘coach’s selection’ is the Storm’s Cooper Cronk, while Daley also chose Wighton and Nielsen.
Daley said: “We certainly have some strike-power in our team and when you look at the calibre of players we have, I think fans will be excited at the style of footy we will play.
“The NRL All Stars is a formidable side with big, powerful, class players in key positions, but I know how determined our team is to perform well and I think we have a squad capable of achieving something special.”
Bennett said the public had selected him a balanced side that would be capable of playing the exciting brand of football that had become synonymous with the All Stars game.
“There is no doubt the fans will be in for an entertaining game with the great mix of talented and exciting backs and powerful forwards in both teams, as well as the blend of experience and youth,” Bennett said.
“Just as important as the game though is the whole week of All Stars activities and community events and I commend the players for their ongoing commitment to the All Stars concept which continues to help make a real difference to the lives of many Australians.”
The 2013 NRL All Stars team is (*All Stars debutants):
1 Billy Slater* (Storm)
2 Akuila Uate (Knights)
3 Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Roosters)
4 Josh Morris (Bulldogs)
5 Brett Morris (Dragons)
6 Benji Marshall (c) (automatic selection) (Wests Tigers)
7 Adam Reynolds* (Rabbitohs)
8. James Tamou* (Cowboys)
9 Cameron Smith (automatic selection) (Storm)
10 Ben Hannant (Broncos)
11 David Taylor (Titans)
12 Anthony Watmough (Sea Eagles)
13 Paul Gallen (Sharks)
14 Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers)
15 Tim Grant* (Panthers)
16 David Shillington (Raiders)
17 Feleti Mateo (Vodafone Warriors)
18 Jarryd Hayne (Eels)
19 Willie Mason* (Knights)
20 Cooper Cronk (Storm)
The 2013 Learn Earn Legend! Indigenous All Stars team is (*All Stars debutants):
1 Ben Barba (Bulldogs)
2 Reece Robinson* (Raiders)
3 Justin Hodges (Broncos)
4 Greg Inglis (Rabbitohs)
5 Blake Ferguson (Raiders)
6 Johnathan Thurston (c) (Cowboys)
7 Scott Prince (Broncos)
8 George Rose (Sea Eagles)
9 Travis Waddell (Not contracted)
10 Andrew Fifita (Sharks)
11 Joel Thompson (Raiders)
12 Greg Bird (Titans)
13 Nathan Peats (Rabbitohs)
14 Ryan James (Titans)
15 Aidan Sezer* (Titans)
16 Joel Romelo* (Bulldogs)
17 Jake Foster* (Raiders)
18 Dane Nielsen* (Vodafone Warriors)
19 Timana Tahu* (Knights)
20 Jack Wighton* (Raiders)
2010 Indigenous All Stars 16 def NRL All Stars 12
2011 NRL All Stars 28 def Indigenous All Stars 12
2012 NRL All Stars 36 def Indigenous All Stars 28