Thurston understands scrapping of Indigenous All Stars match

COWBOYS captain Johnathan Thurston says he fully understands the decision to scrap the annual pre-season game between the Indigenous All Stars and NRL All Stars next year because of a clash with the World Cup.

Thurston would have been one of a host of big names to miss the game, which has been played in February for the past four years, given it will come so soon after the World Cup that will be played in England and Wales at the end of this year.

The game will instead be replaced by a week-long Festival of Indigenous Rugby League to be held in Newcastle.

"The players are 100 per cent behind the All Stars," Thurston said. "We love everything involved in the week, but we only want to see the match held if it can be done properly and played in the spirit and standard that it has been over the past four years.

"If the All Stars was just another game you could get away with playing it under-prepared … but it is played at such a high level of intensity, almost like an Origin game, that you could not do it justice off the back of a World Cup with such little preparation."

The All Stars concept will be back in 2015, but going forward will not be scheduled the year after a World Cup.