Players should decide State of Origin loyalty
State against state! Mate against mate! NSW versus QLD! Blue verse Maroon! Every year the NRL State of Origin clash brings out a fierce passion and loyalty within players and supporters alike.
Yet, the recent dispute over the state allegiance of Sydney Roosters rising star Martin Kennedy has led many a fan to question the truth behind this so-called loyalty.
The annual three-game series divides Australia’s sporting landscape in half; you either support Queensland or New South Wales. The player’s eligibility for either state is determined through where they first played senior rugby league.
The recent dispute brought to the surface the ineffectiveness of these laws and has shown the true nature of the State of Origin selection process to be less than reputable. These laws need to be changed in order to preserve the passion that categorises the state versus state encounter.
The current laws have encountered controversy in that if a player is born and raised in one state and then plays their first senior game in another, then they are eligible to represent that state.
Prominent players like Peter Stirling, Ken Nagas, Matt Rogers, Israel Folau, as well as many more, have managed to utilise this loophole and represent another state.
Current star Greg Inglis caused a lot of controversy when he was selected for his first Origin game, while initially allowed to be eligible for Queensland, it was determined that he had in fact played his first senior game in NSW.
Footy Show host as well as former Queensland player and coach, Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin even once stated that Coffs Harbor was “close enough” when determining a players eligibility for Queensland. These flimsy eligibility laws have devalued the State of Origin passion to the point where there is as much loyalty to a player’s state as there is loyalty to player’s club team, i.e. none.
So how does the NRL change the rules so that players represent their true home and not just the one they happened to be in when they first played senior footy?
Many pundits believe that the rules should be where your born is where you play. So, born in NSW, play for NSW.
Though this doesn’t account for players who move while they are still young and raises the question of where a player is raised.
Should it be where a player grows up? Again this merely adds more complications to the matter, with players needing to prove where they have lived throughout their life.
I believe the players should nominate the state that they want to represent; the state that they feel is their home.
Now, I have come to terms with the fact that I will never play State of Origin, barring some absolute miracle (fingers crossed), yet as I see myself as a Queenslander I would nominate to play for them.
As I live in Canberra, and have done nearly my whole life, under the current laws I would be forced to play for NSW. As a proud Queenslander whose veins run thick with Maroon blood, the thought of wearing that blue jersey sickens me.
I believe that this honesty system is the best policy because if the players are as passionate as they say, then they will play for one state and one state only – their home.
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