NRL: Origin shift ends poaching

By Steve Deane

New rule would also banish emerging Kiwi stars from Australia's age grade rep teams.

James Tamou, who moved from New Zealand to Australia in his teens, would not be eligible for State of Origin selection under the new rule. Photo / Getty Images
James Tamou, who moved from New Zealand to Australia in his teens, would not be eligible for State of Origin selection under the new rule. Photo / Getty Images

Restricting State of Origin to players who have lived in Queensland or New South Wales prior to the age of 13 will halt the poaching of top New Zealand players. But NZRL general manager high performance Tony Kemp says an alternative must be found for emerging Kiwi stars facing banishment from Australia's age grade representative teams.

While the rule change enacted late on Tuesday night will prevent future defections by Kiwis who moved to Australia in their teens - such as James Tamou and Ben Te'o in recent seasons - it also means young Kiwis will no longer be eligible for Australian schoolboy and state representative sides. Kiwis captain Benji Marshall was one player who followed that path, representing Australia at schoolboy level before switching his allegiance back to the Kiwis.

"What the ARLC have said is that if you are not in our junior competitions then you are not eligible for Origin," Kemp said. "I think that is fair enough to retain the integrity of that competition. But from here on in all the kids coming from New Zealand to get into Australia will need some representative football.

The progress from here is having pathways that capture both New Zealand and Australian-based Kiwis and feeding them into our national team."

A Kiwi Origin concept that pits New Zealand-based players against Australian-based Kiwis might be the way forward.

"The amount of talent in Australia of Kiwi origin, as well as in our own pathways in New Zealand, will lead to our own Origin-type contest eventually," Kemp said.

"What [Tuesday's] ruling does is throw a heap of weight behind that happening sooner rather than later."

Funding such a concept would not be cheap, and the NZRL had approached the cashed-up ARLC for financial assistance to help run it, Kemp confirmed.

"We've spoken to the NRL about that. We've presented to them what we see it looking like and where their support is needed."

Kemp can at least rest easy that the likes of emerging stars Jason Tuamalolo and Roger Tuivasa-Scheck can no longer be wooed by Origin coaches Mal Meninga and Laurie Daley. But issues such as Australian schools recruiting young Kiwis and scouts and managers illegally targeting players before they turn 15 remain unresolved, he said.

Other rule changes to be introduced include the removal of the benefit of the doubt option for video referees and clarification of the banning of the shoulder charge. The trial use of captain's challenges to on field decisions will be expanded to include every televised Toyota Cup match.

- NZ Herald

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