Yes, you heard me: international rugby league is not the priority right now. And nor should it be.
Ronaldo Mulitalo will be welcomed back into the Kiwis fold just months after his botched attempt at a Queensland State of Origin debut.
Mulitalo was this week named in a 38-man preliminary squad for New Zealand’s Rugby League World Cup bid.
The Kiwi-born Mulitalo moved to Australia as a teenager and represented Queensland in underage Origin.
But that was this year deemed to be based on an incorrect declaration, with the Cronulla winger cruelly denied a debut just hours before kick off in Origin 2 for Queensland.
Mulitalo did not move to Australia until he was 13 years and ten months, when he was required to be in the country by his 13th birthday.
However there could be a silver lining for the 21-year-old, who is now a chance of representing New Zealand at next year’s World Cup.
His selection wasn’t the only case of confusion over eligibility rules in New Zealand’s squad.
Manly young gun Josh Schuster was selected despite having represented NSW at underage level.
Schuster has Kiwi heritage through his father while his uncle John Schuster played for the All Blacks.
But the Sea Eagles five-eighth-turned-second-rower has indicated his preference is to play for both NSW and Australia.
New Zealand could still take players from outside the squad to the World Cup, as they aim for a return to Test football midway through next season for the first time since 2019.
“We have listed this wider squad, so players are aware that the upcoming preseason and following season creates an enormous opportunity for them and this Kiwis team,” coach Michael Maguire said.
“I am sure we will unearth some new Kiwi talent in the next 12 months, and we may even uncover more current names not listed.
“Nevertheless, this depth is encouraging.”
There was also a return to the squad for Kieran Foran, while Jordan Riki, Erin Clark and Morgan Harper are among other new faces.
New Zealand’s preliminary World Cup squad
Josh Aloai, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich, Dylan Brown, Erin Clark, James Fisher-Harris, Kieran Foran, Braden Hamlin-Uele, Corey Harawira-Naera, Morgan Harper, Tohu Harris, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Peta Hiku, Jahrome Hughes, Jamayne Isaako, Shaun Johnson, Isaac Liu, Joseph Manu, Jeremy Marshall-King, Ken Maumalo, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Briton Nikora, Kodi Nikorima, Marata Niukore, Isaiah Papali’i, Kevin Proctor, Jordan Rapana, Jordan Riki, Josh Schuster, Bailey Simonsson, Brandon Smith, Reimis Smith, Joseph Tapine, Jazz Tevaga, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.