Loopholes are killing international rugby league

ScottWoodward.me Roar Guru

73 Have your say

    Rugby league’s most promising young forward Jason Taumalolo was born in Auckland and raised nearby at Māngere, the same struggle street multi-cultural area as New Zealand’s former Prime Minister David Lange and the former heavy weight boxing champ David Tua.

    But in a blight for the game and a setback for international footy, he is eligible to play for Australia against his own country.

    The decision to turn his back on New Zealand, which he represented as a junior Kiwi in 2010 and again last year, must have been painful, but the game should never have put the brilliant 18-year-old in a win-lose position like this.

    Queensland Origin coach Mal Meninga would have pointed out that if he pledges his allegiance to the Maroons he will earn a fortune playing three State of Origins every year for the next 14 years. With average match payments of, say, $20,000, that is
    $60,000 every year during his career, or a total of $840,000.

    Meninga is a god like figure to a wet behind the ears kid and combined with a manager who would earn around an incremental $60,000 out of the rort, it would be near impossible to say no.

    Big Mal also would have rightly pointed out that although he is a Kiwi, he would also be able to play for Australia and earn even more money.

    This is a case of money versus country, and powerful men exploiting poorly written rules at the expense of the greater good – the game of rugby league.

    The new Australian RL Commission must rewrite the rules of who can play State of Origin and who can play for their country. The number one rule must be that you cannot play either unless you have been nationalised as an Australian.

    Taumalolo moved to Australia at age 13 and I first saw him play at 15 and he was a standout as the biggest player, but incredibly had the rare ability to step off both feet at pace before the line, a feat that few senior players have mastered. Thoughts of witnessing the next Beetson flashed through my mind.

    It was no surprise to see the kid promoted as the youngest player ever to make his debut for the Cowboys, aged 17 years, two months and 21 days.

    No one can blame Meninga for wanting Taumalolo, or John Ribot signing Greg Inglis when he was born in NSW, as these are rare talents and the rules allow for them to be handed a Maroon jersey.

    Origin will always flourish as the brand is so strong, but the Kiwis cannot afford to lose the Taumalolo’s if they ever hope to be the leading rugby league nation.

    Do you find yourself logged out of The Roar?
    We have just switched over to a secure site (https). This means you will need to log-in afresh. If you need help with recovering your password, please get in contact.

    If you could choose from any and every NRL player in the competition, who would you pick in your rugby league dream team? Let us know with our team picker right here, and be sure to share it with all your league-loving mates.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (73)

    • March 30th 2012 @ 9:12am
      Juan Patain said | March 30th 2012 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      It’s the fault of the system, but Meninga is as much to blame in this for asking a person to turn their back on their country. Meninga is doing the wrong thing in coaxing young men who still have a lot of maturing to do, to accept a suggestion from someone they look up to. A poor effort on his part.

      • Roar Guru

        March 30th 2012 @ 9:39am
        ScottWoodward.me said | March 30th 2012 @ 9:39am | ! Report

        What about the players managers?
        Everyone is looking after each other and dont care about the player or the games bigger picture.

    • March 30th 2012 @ 9:12am
      turbodewd said | March 30th 2012 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      1. Yes, it sounds ridiculous that this fella can play for Qld and Australia.

      2. RL fans shouldnt place any importance on internationals. Australia is a sporting super power, what value is there in beating up on the kiwis or POMs in RL every year? You dont get stronger beating those weaker than you. Sports such as the AFL, NFL and UFC prove that you only have to deliver quality to the fans and they will attend in droves. And Aussie crowds for Aus v NZ dont match SofOrigin crowds so the fans agree.

      3. The depth of talent in NZ highlights Wellington and Perth as the ideal next pair of NRL teams.

      • Roar Guru

        March 30th 2012 @ 9:41am
        ScottWoodward.me said | March 30th 2012 @ 9:41am | ! Report

        I agree, and strategically having another team in NZ is a no brainer. There MUST be a game of League in NZ every weekend.

    • March 30th 2012 @ 9:22am
      Go warriors said | March 30th 2012 @ 9:22am | ! Report

      Very good article Scott. Mal Meninga is doing a very good job at killing international RL. Australia has more than enough talent and depth they dont need to steal Pacific Island players. These players should be playing for their countries. For International RL to grow and to become a global sport then these Pacific Islands teams need their best players playing for them. Hang you head in shame MAL.

      • Roar Guru

        March 30th 2012 @ 9:44am
        ScottWoodward.me said | March 30th 2012 @ 9:44am | ! Report

        Go Warriors
        It not Mal’s fault, its the dumb rules. Dont worry NSW would love to get Sonny Bill Williams.

    • March 30th 2012 @ 9:36am
      Gareth said | March 30th 2012 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      Bring back the Tri-Series.

      • Roar Guru

        March 30th 2012 @ 9:44am
        ScottWoodward.me said | March 30th 2012 @ 9:44am | ! Report

        Not sure the SOO series will change in a hurry, its too big.

    • March 30th 2012 @ 9:37am
      Dan said | March 30th 2012 @ 9:37am | ! Report

      Yep good point, you would be M.A.D if you didn’t want Greg Inglis I suppose

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download The Roar’s iPhone App in the App Store here.

      • Roar Guru

        March 30th 2012 @ 9:46am
        ScottWoodward.me said | March 30th 2012 @ 9:46am | ! Report

        It is just business and Origin is big business. It is dog eat dog.

    • March 30th 2012 @ 9:41am
      sledgeross said | March 30th 2012 @ 9:41am | ! Report

      Thats true Scott, he couldnt even get a start at Wenty!
      I dont mind Aussies playing for other countries at the WC as long as there is long term growth in those minnow nations. Ideally in 20 years time you will have enough depth to at least field a majority of home grown players.
      This isnt necessarily a rugby league issue as well. You8 do see it in other international sports like Rugby and cricket as well. I think England cricket had something like 6 foriegn born players in their test team last year, and smaller countries in world rugby do field a handful of overseas born residents to strengthen their squad.

      • Roar Guru

        March 30th 2012 @ 9:49am
        ScottWoodward.me said | March 30th 2012 @ 9:49am | ! Report

        It is true that it applies to all sports, but Origin should not prevent a kid playing for his proud country.

    , , , , ,