Willie Tonga is among the elite players involved in next month's All-Stars gala day at the North Ipswich Reserve
Willie Tonga is among the elite players involved in next month's All-Stars gala day at the North Ipswich Reserve

Ipswich’s Indigenous All-Stars stacked with speed, skill

THE countdown is on. Some of the fastest and toughest players in Ipswich rugby league are set to play in next month's gala match at the North Ipswich Reserve.

The Ipswich Indigenous All-Stars will take on an Ipswich All-Stars combination in the 5.50pm encounter at the North Ipswich Reserve on March 6.

Preliminary squads have been released with a smorgasbord of speed and skill among the former Ipswich Jets and Ipswich rugby league club stars.

Former Tongan international and NRL player Willie Tonga may also line up for the Indigenous All-Stars after being a guest speaker at the Friday night function.

Tonga played in 181 NRL games for Parramatta, the Bulldogs and Cowboys between 2002-2014.

He represented Australia 12 times and Queensland in eight matches.

Among the Jets contingent are hard men like Billy McConnachie, Kurtis Lingwoodock, Donald Malone and Brendon Marshall. Former Jets five-eight Ricky Bird is also a possible starter.

Tenacious Ipswich club footballers like Mosby brothers Bernard and Harold are eager to join the Indigenous line-up having played for West End in last year's Volunteers Cup series.

The Ipswich All-Stars squad being led by Goodna stalwart Zac Lemberg features experience across the field.

Recently retired Norths A-Grader Tonga Mounga is having a run, along with seasoned performers like Goodna premiership-winning skipper Ramon Filipine, Jake O'Doherty, Huskie Teutau and Nemani Velekapa.

After weeks of planning, Rugby League Ipswich chairman Gary Parker appreciated players being available for the two powerful sides.

Ipswich Indigenous All-Stars coach Ian Lacey. Picture: David Lems
Ipswich Indigenous All-Stars coach Ian Lacey. Picture: David Lems

Ipswich Indigenous All-Stars coach Ian Lacey is pleased with his squad taking shape for the match.

"It's coming together nicely so it should be pretty good,'' Lacey said.

Lacey is planning training sessions next Tuesday and Thursday nights to get everyone together.

"For a one-off game, there's not too much coaching that needs to be involved in terms of structures,'' Lacey said.

"It's just letting the boys get to know each other and go out and have some fun.''

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Some of the footballers have played together at different levels.

"The beauty of rugby league is you come in contact with many people throughout your time and then you always seem to full circle back,'' he said.

"So it's a good little initiative that allows people to do that again.''

The former Brisbane Bronco was keen to see the trademark qualities his players still possess.

"That's the beauty of a footy team. You work to your strengths,'' he said.

"And with Aboriginal footy teams you're always going to have a lot of skill and speed.''

He said the Indigenous squad also included some strong forwards with plenty of footy nouse.

Lacey said captain Lingwoodock was an ideal leader for the game.

"He's got a really good history in Ipswich rugby league, in both the Jets and the local league systems,'' Lacey said.

"He's lived in Ipswich his whole life so he has got a really good name in the community and he plays with a lot of passion . . . so that's what you want for a game like this.''

The Ipswich Indigenous-Ipswich All Stars match will follow a under-21 trial at 4pm between the Ipswich Jets and Western Mustangs.

The Indigenous jerseys will be auctioned off after the All-Stars game.

Tickets are available for the Friday night function at the North Ipswich Corporate Centre.

Contact Jo at Rugby League Ipswich on 3202 4137.

Possible squads for the All-Stars game on March 6 at the North Ipswich Reserve.

Indigenous All-Stars (more players to be confirmed): Brett Kelly, Bernard Mosby, Harold Mosby, Donald Malone, Rendy Mam, Cameron Picker, Ricky Bird, Billy McConnachie, AJ Elder, Kurtis Lingwoodock (captain), Ethan Page, Nathan Gaulton, Phil Dennis, Jerome Green, Willie Tonga, Kyle Blackman, Ritchie Lowe, Brandon Grogan, Lamiki Wraight, Daniel West-Pes, Lee Coghill, Steve West, Brendon Marshall. Coach: Ian Lacey.

Ipswich All-Stars (two to be added): Ratu Vatuinaruku, Anava Fesolai, Nemani Velekapa, Tonga Mounga, Anthony Itiri, Traveindra Naidu, Isi Hafoka, Jake O'Doherty, Michael Hayes, Zac Lemberg (captain), Ramon Filipine, Jacob Lindsey, Huskie Teutau, Jack Wallace, Jake Casey, Dylan Martin, Elijah Umu. Coach: Scott Ireland.