Orange product Jack Wighton and his Indigenous All Stars teammates are set for an all-out assault on their World All Stars counterparts at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night, after the traditional lead-up celebrations over the past two weeks.
This year’s two-day, pre-game Indigenous players’ camp at Manly’s Quarantine Station in Sydney Harbour, the fifth, focused on the importance of connecting with Indigenous history and culture as well as the players’ progression as leaders and role models within the community.
Wighton and his teammates spent the camp together learning more about the significance of Indigenous culture, with sessions from a number of guest speakers including Stan Grant, Linda Burney and Chris Sarra dedicated to leadership, belonging, cultural heritage and identity.
That camp came before this week’s official training camp, which also included a number of community visits.
"[The camp] not only provides a significant and positive impact on the players involved, but the wider community and the importance of Indigenous history, the people and our culture," Indigenous All Stars skipper Greg Inglis said.
"While we'll be doing everything we can as a team to win [on Friday], and encourage everyone to head to Newcastle to cheer us on, the most important result for us as a group is to best represent our family, people and culture, both past and present, as leaders on and off the field."
Wighton will start at fullback on Friday night in his third appearance for the Indigenous side, his other two have come from the bench.
He’ll line up alongside the likes of four-time Dally M Medal winner Jonathon Thurston, Inglis, young guns Ash Taylor, Tyrone Peachey and Latrell Mitchell along with Canberra teammate Aiden Sezer in what coach Laurie Daley labelled the strongest Indigenous side to date.
The star-studded backline will be complemented perfectly by the uber-talented Indigenous forward pack, with Andrew Fifita and Ryan James starting in the front row alongside hooker Nathan Peats, while Joel Thompson, Kyle Turner and Wade Graham start in the back row.
Penrith’s Bryce Cartwright and Raiders’ skipper Jarrod Croker headline the World All Stars side, which also includes Sydney Roosters hooker Jake Friend.
Kick off’s at 8pm on Friday night, after the women’s game at 5.30pm.