A FAILED visa application has opened the door for Albury Thunder forward Jon Huggett to be called up to play against South Sydney at Albury Sportsground on Saturday.
With powerhouse Gundagai forward Luke Berkrey withdrawing from the Riverina squad due to injury earlier this week, coach Josh Cale turned to his former premiership player to fill the void.
"I was going overseas but things fell through last week so I'm staying," Huggett said.
"I could have re-applied but I had second thoughts about it.
"Then Cale called up this week and gave me a game so it's turned out pretty well.
"Everyone aims to play NRL or against NRL sides so it's a fantastic opportunity.
"I'm excited as."
Huggett will join Albury Thunder teammates Adrian Purtell, Robbie Byatt and Etu Uaisele in the Riverina side which will take on a South Sydney outfit being led by Wayne Bennett for the first time.
Cale said the All Stars planned to be unpredictable with the ball.
"South Sydney will be fit, strong and well drilled," Cale said.
"We will try and be unpredictable and move the footy around as much as we can.
"If anything, it might be good to watch
"Obviously we need to complete to do well.
"We've talked about moving the footy, backing ourselves and being as tight as we can in defence by getting in behind our ruck. It's going to be a battle but we know what's coming."
Cale said he wasn't overawed about going head-to-head with the iconic NRL premiership coach.
"There is no real pressure on my side of things," he said.
"I'm just excited for the players.
"We want to play well for ourselves and do well for the area.
"I'm sure once it gets closer I'll get a bit nervous but, unlike Bennett, I don't get to think about footy all day every day."
Just over 1800 tickets have been purchased with tickets available online for $15 on Friday.
They will be sold at the gate for $20 on Saturday.
The main match is set down for 6pm, following two curtain-raisers.