Newcastle Knights centre Dane Gagai has put his hand up for selection in the Indigenous All Stars side with his recovery from injury ahead of schedule.
Gagai, who injured his hamstring in a freak accident, hopes to return to full training after the Christmas break.
“I wasn’t initially put on the list because of my hamstring injury, but I’m ahead of schedule,” the 23-year-old said.
“The Knights physios like what they are seeing.
“I was back on the field the other day doing a lot of running and conditioning.
“I’m feeling confident I will be right to come back after Christmas and look forward to getting back into full training with the boys.”
Gagai hasn’t yet donned the Indigenous All Stars jersey but hopes it is something he can achieve this February.
“It would definitely mean a lot to me if I was to make the Indigenous All Stars side,” he added.
“It would also mean a lot to my family and I guess my people.
“It’s a big event in the Indigenous community, and there’s some big supporters we’ve seen in the last couple of All Star events.
“I’d love to be a part of something as big as that and something.”
Gagai is eligible for the centre, wing and fullback position and is preferred to play in any position if it means he gains selection.
“My preferred position is centre, I love that one-on-one competition with my opposition centre,” Gagai explains.
“But I don’t care what position I play. If I was to be picked in the side, that would be enough for me.
“It would be the fact that I could represent in the Indigenous All Stars.”
Indigenous All Stars coach Laurie Daley is urging fans to cast their vote for his 2015 team which he hopes will provide the edge for outright Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars bragging rights.
“This is a great opportunity for fans of the All Stars to have their say in selecting their squad,” Daley said.
“I am thrilled that Dane has re-joined the race. He is a great talent, and what I am looking for in coming weeks is for fans to think about the make-up of the squad.
“I’m really looking forward to bringing the side together and coaching some of the game’s brightest talents.
“It should be a great game, a really entertaining spectacle and I can’t wait.”
Supporters from across the country have taken up the challenge and logged on to www.nrl.com/allstars to vote for the Indigenous All Stars side. There is still a chance for fans to shape an exciting team of their favourite Indigenous Rugby League superstars.
Fans can cast their vote by selecting a 13-man starting side, plus seven wildcards, from the list of eligible Indigenous players.
Players in the starting side are restricted to relevant positions – grouped by forwards and backs – however the seven wildcard spots are not restricted and players from any position can fill these spots.
Public selections will close on January 9, with the squad to be revealed on January 19.