NRL says All Stars game not under threat

The All Stars game, first played in 2010, was shelved this year due to the Rugby League World Cup and the inaugural Nines competition. Photo / Getty Images
The All Stars game, first played in 2010, was shelved this year due to the Rugby League World Cup and the inaugural Nines competition. Photo / Getty Images

The NRL insists the Indigenous All Stars does still have a future despite the huge success of the Auckland Nines and the possibility of an expanded World Club Championship.

The All Stars game, first played in 2010, was shelved this year due to the Rugby League World Cup and the inaugural Nines competition.

Some NRL coaches have expressed concerns about the growing workload on players in pre-season with the international Four Nations series taking place after October's Grand Final, followed by the Nines and the All Stars in early 2015.

NRL's head of football Todd Greenberg confirmed on Monday discussions were ongoing with English clubs about the possibility of a six-team competition taking place in the UK next year and that there was a realistic prospect of it being given the green light.

However, NRL CEO Dave Smith said All Stars is still very much an important part of the code's calendar and would return "bigger and better" in 2015.

"Anyone who has been part of the All Stars knows what a great event it is," Smith said.

"A large part of the Kangaroos side that won the World Cup were Indigenous All Stars players. We know how much that event means to them and I guarantee it will come back bigger and better."

Smith and Greenberg met with Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan for dinner last week in Bondi before the World Club Challenge between the Sydney Roosters and the Super League champions.

And Lenagan has since stated he's confident of a deal being struck with the NRL for three teams to face off against three Super League sides across a weekend in February - with the premiers from both competitions playing one another on the Sunday.

But Greenberg was more cautious saying discussions needed to take place with clubs and players before anything can be decided.

"It's part of the complex pre-season structure we're having with clubs," he said.

"We'll assess all those opportunities in collaboration with the English clubs."

Smith said the prospect of a varied pre-season program could only be a good thing for the game.

"With the World Club Challenge we had more than 30,000 people, we had the success of the Nines ... it is a good problem to have," he said.

"But it's one we need to think carefully about because we want to manage player welfare and secondly we want to maximise value."

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