Josh Addo-Carr opens up on sad withdrawal from NRL All-Stars game

The Canterbury Bulldogs winger has opted to focus on the pre-season with his club, rather than play for the Indigenous All-Stars.

Josh Addo-Carr, pictured here in action for the Indigenous All-Stars in 2020.
Josh Addo-Carr in action for the Indigenous All-Stars in 2020. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Josh Addo-Carr has opened up on his shock decision to withdraw from the NRL All-Stars game, saying he doesn't think he's fit enough at this stage of the pre-season. The Bulldogs winger revealed the stunning decision on Friday and won't play for the Indigenous All-Stars against the Maori side in Rotorua on February 11.

Addo-Carr later revealed that he wants to focus on his pre-season with the Bulldogs. “I just feel like I need to get my mind and body right," he told Fox Sports.

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"I’ve only been back the last three weeks, I sat down with the (Bulldogs) coaches and they went through some stuff that I needed to get right and that’s all it was. It was a disappointing decision but at the same time I thought about the team before myself.

"I’m not as fit as I should be and I’m just trying to get everything right. I’m shattered but it’s just one of those things.”

Addo-Carr, who has had a shortened pre-season due to his commitments with the Kangaroos at last year's World Cup, said he wants to give himself every chance to get up to speed with some new systems put in place by coach Cameron Ciraldo. The former Penrith Panthers assistant will start his time in charge of the Bulldogs in 2023 after Trent Barrett was sacked last year and replaced by caretaker coach Mick Potter.

Addo-Carr has played for the Indigenous All-Stars three times, helping them win the 2019 edition in Melbourne with three tries. The Maori All-Stars have won every game since then.

On Saturday it also emerged that Roosters stars Joseph Manu and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves won't suit up for the Maori All-Stars due to injury concerns. Manu suffered a facial fracture last week, while Waerea-Hargreaves has complaints over his back and hamstring.

Addo-Carr's departure from the Indigenous squad sees him join Ezra Mam (Brisbane), Chris Smith (Penrith) and Will Smith (Wests Tigers) in pulling the plug. Daine Laurie (Wests Tigers), Albert Kelly (Dolphins), Isaiah Tass (South Sydney) and Braydon Trindall (Cronulla) have been called up to replace them.

Will the NRL All-Stars game go ahead?

The 2023 edition will mark the first time the annual showpiece game has been played in New Zealand. However there are fears it might not go ahead due to the threat of strike action from players amid an ugly stoush with the NRL.

Dozens of NRL players are currently locked in a battle with league boss Andrew Abdo over pay and conditions amid negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. Strike action is now looming as a real possibility.

"I’d be surprised if the All Stars game goes ahead to be honest," Panthers legend Scott Sattler said this week. "The NRL have probably sat on their hands for too long on this and didn’t think that the players were that strong.

"(Peter) V’landys and Abdo didn’t think that (RLPA CEO) Clint Newton had the support that they thought he would (but) the support is gathering a lot more strength. I’d be really surprised if that All-Stars game goes ahead if it continues the way it is."

Josh Addo-Carr, pictured here before the NRL All-Stars game in 2022.
Josh Addo-Carr looks on before the NRL All-Stars game in 2022. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Newcastle forward Adam Elliott warned of "something extreme" if the NRL failed to act on the players' demands. He said on Newcastle radio station Hit106.9: “If we don’t get the results in the next sort of 24-48 hours in the boardroom between our president, Clint Newton, Andrew Abdo and Peter V’Landys then we’re going to be speaking about different action that we’re going to take.

"We’re a really united playing group at the moment - it’s probably the most united and together I have ever seen a group. If it gets to the point where we’ve to do something extreme, I’m really confident that all the players are going to buy into it and be working together for that common goal."

However Elliott said strike action would be the very last resort. He added: "We're rugby league players, we want to play footy."

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