The NRL All Stars game has delivered another spine-tingling introduction with the haka and the indigenous war dance going head-to-head in a stunning exhibition before the match.
While there have been some trials before the season starts, the annual indigenous showcase has delivered the passion in spades as the regular season nears.
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With the players speaking in the lead up how much it means to represent their people and their culture, the passion oozed out in an unbelievable introduction to the match.
It started with the haka with Fox Sports commentator Andrew Voss left near speechless, adding “wow” before finding the words.
“There are no words for that portrayal of the haka, the war cry awakening the gods, they are ready for battle,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve seen better or more stirring than what you’ve just seen from the Maori All Stars.”
It was equally stirring when the indigenous All Stars had finished.
“Truly remarkable before kick-off here,” Voss added.
Incredible scenes before the All Stars match.Source:Getty Images
Greg Alexander added that the players had spoken about how important it was to them to play for their people, adding “It’s one of the real highlights of the event is the war dance from both teams. The Maori one was frightening.”
Michael Ennis said: “Goosebumps stuff. Brilliant from both. We start our season with so much passion, so much skill, so much entertainment but that war cry from both just gives you goosebumps and drags you straight back into the season. It’s electric.”
Social media was quick to react to the performances as well.
The opening moments of the NRL All Star game are amazing. Worth a look
Loving the Pre match #allstars @NRL #indigenous pic.twitter.com/gBdaMhZYfN
Too deadly! The power & the passion but absolutely the pride. To hear and see culture & our language centre stage to kick off the greatest game 2021 #NRLAllStars forget the tennis this is where you should be! Great work #NRL @NITV pic.twitter.com/Bt0UzGzb9P
But while the passion was great before the game, Fox League analyst Cooper Cronk believed it got in the way in the first half with plenty of dropped ball and a 2-0 game at the break.
The game had threatened to boil over throughout with the teams coming together all game for any infraction, while there was some early season sloppiness, including a shoulder charge from the Maori’s Zane Musgrove and an ugly high tackle from Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
“That’s the best pre-game introduction to a game I’ve ever seen,” Cronk said. “I was on the edge of my seat and enjoyed the passion but unfortunately for the football performance, I think that passion and pride and intensity have flowed into their game, the inability to hold onto the ball, the big hits, the fights. But the big thing for me was the inability of the Maori’s to capitalise on 32 play the balls inside the indigenous 20 and come up with doughnuts.”
Meninga said the indigenous side took their Unity Dance performance onto the field but it showed up as desperation in defence, after the Maori side had 61 per cent of possession in the first half.
He added that he’d love to have a translation about what was said in the Unity Dance to better understand what the players are celebrating and what they’re representing.
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scored for the All Stars.Source:News Corp Australia
The second half saw the Maori side score through Jordan Riki forcing his way across before Watene-Zelezniak finished off a length of the field effort to take a 10-2 lead at the end of three quarters.
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