League: Meninga tells Kasiano to pledge allegiance

Sam Kasiano. Photo / Getty Images
Sam Kasiano. Photo / Getty Images

Queensland coach Mal Meninga has said Sam Kasiano needs to declare his allegiance to the Maroons before he will consider him for the State of Origin match against New South Wales on July 4.

Kasiano signed a letter of intent with the New Zealand Rugby League in April to play for the Kiwis and last month elected New Zealand when declaring his eligibility on his Bulldogs contract but speculation has been rife the Auckland-born prop will be included in Meninga's side for the series deciding third game.

The player has remained tight-lipped about his intentions and Meninga has called on Kasiano, who moved to Queensland after high school, to make his position clear.

"Let me make this clear, if Sam wants to be a Queenslander, he has to declare himself a Queenslander," Meninga told Sydney's Daily Telegraph. "I have no idea where this [talk of Kasiano playing in Origin III] has come from. Apparently he has signed a letter of intent to play for New Zealand, well so be it.

"To be accused of poaching players ... if anyone wants to play for Queensland, then stick your hand up for Queensland and then we'll think about selecting you."

Meninga admitted, however, he spoke to Kasiano at the start of the season about his representative intentions in the same way he approached Jason Taumalolo about his status before he made his debut for the Kiwis in this year's Anzac test.

Bulldogs teammate Ben Barba did little to quell speculation the 133kg prop will choose a maroon jersey over a black and white one when he revealed Kasiano was keen to play for Queensland.

"He wants to play for Queensland," Barba told the Telegraph. "I've had a bit of a chat to him and he says he wants to play for us, so I'm hoping he does and hopefully one day he gets his chance."

The situation has caused a stir on both sides of the Tasman, especially in the wake of Jason Tamou's defection to play for Australia and NSW earlier this year.

The financial benefits of playing Origin are difficult for the NZRL to compete with. Players can earn up to $50,000 playing Origin football each year - players earned $9000 for playing this year's Anzac test.

Warriors coach Brian McClennan, who coached the Kiwis in 2005-07, said the eligibility rules needed to be tightened to avoid ongoing tug-of-wars.

"We are heading into dangerous territory here. Protect international football. It's the pinnacle and we've got to protect that. I love the State of Origin too, the theatre of it and the drama. But to have that become the main event is just dangerous.

"We are going to have to get some rules. Whatever they are is down to the administrators, but we are heading into dangerous territory here."

- APNZ

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