Grant admits Origin eligibility an issue
ARLC chairman John Grant says if the Rugby League International Federation clarifies the ambiguity regarding Test match eligibility then State of Origin of selection will largely take care of itself.
With speculation mounting that Canterbury’s Auckland-raised prop Sam Kasiano will be picked for Queensland in next month’s State of Origin decider, Grant admits there are issues regarding the entire make-up of representative selection.
“There’s Origin eligibility … and there’s international eligibility which is defined by the international federation,” Grant said at the NRL’s Women in League lunch in Sydney on Thursday.
“We have a strong say, but it (RLIF) does not review the rules according to what we want.
“We’ve got to work through that process and merge those two.
“It is an issue, and we have to be more clear about who can play for who and whether it be Origin or their country.”
While there’s the ongoing debate about which specific state players are available for, Grant believes that if the RLIF at least makes it clear whether a player is eligible for Australia then there’s no question about whether a footballer is actually entitled to be selected for Origin.
Ball-playing forward Kasiano is the most recent case in point.
New Zealand-raised, he moved to Brisbane after finishing high school where he played for Queensland Cup side Aspley Devils.
Although he has not represented the Kiwis, he signed a letter in March pledging his allegiance to the land of his birth.
However, this agreement is not legally binding and the 21-year-old can opt to play for Queensland if he informs the RLIF that he wants to declare his allegiance to Australia.
This was a path taken by Feleti Mateo, who captained Tonga last year, as he bid to play for NSW.
The selection of Kiwi-born James Tamou for Australia in April’s Test match against New Zealand made him available for the Blues and he has gone on to be a huge success in this year’s opening two matches.
Palmerston-North native Tamou moved to Sydney as a 13-year-old and played his junior football with Paddington Tigers in Sydney before joining North Queensland from Sydney Roosters.
However, he was included in New Zealand’s train-on squad for the Four Nations campaign last year, only to be overlooked by coach Stephen Kearney.
This allowed Australia selectors to move in and persuade him to play for the Kangaroos in April’s Anzac Test against the Kiwis, with Blues coach Ricky Stuart then naming him in his team in May.
Grant conceded the decision of the likes of Tamou will have been influenced by the financial rewards available to Origin players, who can earn in excess of $20,000 a game. There is talk that figure could soon move to $50,000 a game.
The current situation which allows players to swap allegiances was designed to help smaller rugby league nations to be competitive in the international game.
But Grant said this may also need addressing by the RLIF.
“International rules define who can play for who and you have to be respectful of the rules that are in place and also the players personal desires,” he said.
“If the rules are wrong then change the rules.”© AAP 2013
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