League: Kiwis sound out young Bronco

By Peter Badel

Brisbane's Corey Norman. Photo / Getty Images
Brisbane's Corey Norman. Photo / Getty Images

First there was the Turncoat Tamou saga. Now boom Broncos utility Corey Norman is the latest NRL star embroiled in a transtasman eligibility battle - this time to New Zealand's benefit.

The Kiwis hierarchy have sounded out Norman to gauge his interest in playing for the Kiwis, less than a year after the classy playmaker represented the Junior Kangaroos. Under current representative eligibility rules, junior international selection is not counted, meaning Norman - who has dual eligibility - is still available for New Zealand.

Revelations of the Kiwis' interest in Norman is sure to spark cries of hypocrisy after New Zealand blasted the Kangaroos over the shock defection of James Tamou just 10 days before the Anzac test.

New Zealand Rugby League high performance manager Tony Kemp revealed the Kiwis' approach to Norman but denied it was furtive.

"He's definitely on our list. We've already sounded Corey out through our network of contacts, like Mal [Meninga, Queensland coach] and Ricky [Stuart, former NSW mentor].

It's my job to find out where guys are at and what they want to do and if they have an interest in playing for New Zealand.

"We have an extended list of Kiwis to keep an eye on and Corey Norman is on that list. We need to work out who wants to play for our country. We get into a spot of bother when guys are saying, 'We'll see what comes along', so we want to establish who genuinely wants to represent New Zealand.

"We realise Corey is eligible [for New Zealand] and ultimately he will make the call. I am not going to push the envelope with him, I am leaving the call to Corey."

The Kiwis believe Norman qualifies through his parents. Hailed as a possible successor to Queensland five-eighth Johnathan Thurston, the 21-year-old was reared in Brisbane.

Norman was tight-lipped about his representative future but admits he has travelled to New Zealand only to play games for the Broncos.

"I don't know if it is on my list," he said. "I'm born and bred in Australia and the first time I went to New Zealand is when I went over there to play under-20s. I've been over there about three times for football, so we'll see what happens."

NZRL chief executive Jim Doyle defended their interest in Norman, saying they are not trying to coerce the Broncos fullback or five-eighth to wear the black-and-white jumper.

"He's one guy our high performance guys are talking to. But if they say they are a Queenslander or New South Welshman, that's fine, we won't try and sway them.

"For us, we are conscious the NZRL have had a lot of non-Kiwi born players play for us but we want to talk to people who want to play for the Kiwis.

"If we talk to someone and they consider themselves more Australian, then that's fine."

- Herald on Sunday

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