Rugby league players will have to wait five years to represent their adopted country after the game's international federation changed the eligibility rules.

The RLIF board has extended the qualification period from three years.

The residency ruling has been a bone of contention since New Zealand-born Rangi Chase switched his allegiance to England in 2011, after spending three years with Castleford and went on to play in the 2013 World Cup.

Federation officials say they have now extended the qualification period to five years while ensuring players from developing nations retain dual eligibility.


The changes, which take effect from October 1, come in time for the 2016 Four Nations Series.

It will mean, for example, that Auckland-born winger Denny Solomona - Super League's leading try scorer who has been in England since the start of 2014 - would have wait another two years to qualify for England.

He can represent Samoa, a second-tier nation, if overlooked by New Zealand.

"Following an initial review by the RLIF ... we have consulted extensively with members and made these changes not only in time for the 2017 World Cup but also for the international matches leading into our flagship event," RLIF chairman Nigel Wood said.

"This provides maximum preparation time for nations, their players and coaches, and enhances the quality and competitiveness of our global events."