NRL All Stars don't lack passion: Champion - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL All Stars don't lack passion: Champion

Daniel Pace 10/02/2011 08:02:20 PM Comments (0)

Beau Champion rejects any suggestion the NRL All Stars lacked the hunger and drive to win the inaugural match against their Indigenous counterparts last year.

The lead-up to the showpiece pre-season event on the Gold Coast on Saturday night has focused on the passion and energy levels of the Indigenous All Stars, who are playing for their culture and people.

In contrast, only personal pride has been mentioned as a prime motivating factor for Wayne Bennett's super side, who lost 16-12 at Skilled Park in 2010.

But Melbourne Storm centre Champion believes the intensity of last year's match proved the NRL All Stars were just as desperate to win.

"Playing in the game last year, I can't see how they weren't as fired up or didn't take the game seriously," Champion told AAP on Thursday.

"They were going 100 mile an hour and we were going 100 mile an hour.

"Maybe they didn't prepare as well or took the game a little bit lightly but I know that when they were out on that field, the adrenalin was pumping and they were ready to go.

"They probably put a little bit more preparation into it this year and they want to get a result as much as we do.

"It'd mean a lot to the players, especially blokes like (fullback) Josh Dugan who want to be rep players of the future."

Champion isn't sure whether he'll be lining up against Penrith speedster Michael Jennings or Jamie Lyon in the centres on Saturday night, but he has a gut feeling he will mark up against the Manly skipper for the first time.

"Whoever they decide to put on my side, I'll be ready," he warned.

Champion's former club team-mate, Rabbitohs flyer Nathan Merritt, on Thursday declared he wanted to stay at Souths for the rest of his career.

The Indigenous All Stars winger is off contract at the end of this season and hopes he can play under master coach Wayne Bennett next year, with speculation mounting that Bennett will leave the Dragons and join Russell Crowe's Bunnies.

"If Wayne Bennett goes there (to Souths), it'll be a great coup for the club," said Merritt, who scored 16 tries in the NRL last season.

"I'd love to stick around and hopefully win a premiership with Souths. I want to be there for the rest of my career."

Both teams had a day off training on Thursday when the Indigenous All Stars told their inspirational stories of success to 120 indigenous children from across Australia at a youth summit.

"I never thought I'd be a rugby league player because I was such a tiny fella," said injured fullback Preston Campbell, the brainchild behind the All Stars concept.

"But when I had that dream, I never let anything stand in front of me."

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2020 AAP

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