Maori captaincy a family moment for DWZ

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak follows in his great-grandfather's steps when he represents the Maoris.
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak follows in his great-grandfather's steps when he represents the Maoris.

The NRL All Stars match is already a family affair for Dallin Watene-Zelezniak but the opportunity to co-captain the Maori team allows him to follow in a relative's footsteps.

The New Zealand international will lead the Maori against the Indigenous All Stars at CBUS Super Stadium on Saturday alongside Adam Blair after coach David Kidwell revealed his leaders during a team meeting on Monday.

Great-grandfather Tipene Watene captained the Maoris and Kiwis in the 1930s, and while the Bulldogs star never met his groundbreaking relative, his legacy has been a large part of his upbringing.

"I'm just happy to put his name back where it once was," Watene-Zelezniak said.

"It's special (to be co-captain), it's something that I think is bigger for my family especially my aunties and uncles."

As well as the past, Watene-Zelezniak's family ties in Saturday's match are also in the present with older brother Malaki also a part of the team.

The pair are roommates during the team's camp, evoking memories of their childhood where they shared a single bedroom with two other brothers.

While Watene-Zelezniak has matured into an on-field leader - a development he credits largely to fatherhood - Penrith winger Malakai says there's only one boss in the duo's hotel room.

"He still has to make my bed in the morning, make sure my toothbrush is ready to go," Malakai said.

"He might be captain on the field but I'm captain off it.

"I am proud of him, being the older brother and him being the younger - I've definitely learnt a lot off the younger brother.

"He is meant to learn off me but I get more leadership qualities out of Dal."

Australian Associated Press