The overwhelming success and legacy of the Queensland Rugby League team has proven to be the catalyst for defections from the New Zealand Kiwi team.
Mal Meninga and his entourage have single-handedly dismantled New Zealand's future. It was barely two weeks ago that Jason Taumalolo pledged allegiance to New Zealand and the Kiwi team. After all, he represented the Junior Kiwi team for the preceding two years and was certainly in line for selection in the near future.
His climb from the junior ranks through to the North Queensland Cowboys Toyota Cup and then NRL side was meteoric and Stephen Kearney would have been drooling over his future prospect. Then within a week of making that pledge, he jumps camp and is now in line to run out for the Queensland Under-20s State of Origin team to play NSW in just three weeks time. How and why did he change his mind so quickly? Did Mal bully him into it? Even I'd be scared if Mal was pressuring me to make a decision and I was still only 18 years-old.
Was money an influence? If he was to be selected for the senior Queensland team, an estimated AUD$20,000 per appearance and win is likely to sway one so young; this on top of his NRL contract.
How is the NZRL to compete with that sort of financial incentive?
The battle is with the exposure of State of Origin and the glory associated with it. He (Taumalolo) living in Queensland is surrounded by it and as far as wanting to play the highest level of rugby league, there is no higher than this. Playing for your country is the highest accolade, but playing for Queensland or NSW, there is no higher standard of play.
Other players recently lost to Queensland have been Sam Kasiano (Bulldogs) Ben Te'o from the Broncos but we were lucky enough to retain the services of Josh Hoffman and Gerard Beale, both of the Broncos.
The war that New Zealand is fighting is the one between NSW and Queensland. Recent developments have seen the NRL Commission present new criteria around state preferences on the NRL contracts. Why only the state? Australia is looking after itself on this occasion and if it is not careful it will bite them where it hurts.
The NRL has seen the transformation of its game similar to what happened in New Zealand; the 'browning of the game' and the only way it can keep up with the transition is to recruit with the biggest tool at their disposal: State of Origin.
If you select a state of preference you are automatically considered Australian.
Why don't they select players when they become a citizen of Australia? If a player is prepared to commit to Australia, then totally commit. The same can be said of other nationalities. Under international laws you can commit to a country through birth right (Grandparents). If this were to extend to State of Origin, currently a couple of Kiwi players would be claiming some sort of Aboriginal heritage ... sound familiar?