'It weakens the product': NRL commentator rubbishes State of Origin eligibility rules
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The eligibility rules for the State of Origin became a hot topic of conversation last year with some of the game’s stars representing countries such as Samoa and Tonga at the World Cup.
The guidelines for eligibility currently state that no player representing a ‘Tier 1’ nation can play in the series, regardless of how long they may have lived in their respective state.
Currently, a ‘Tier 1’ team only references New Zealand or England.
However, recently there was talk of Samoa and Tonga potentially being elevated to tier one - especially based on the former making it all the way to the World Cup final.
That would unfortunately mean some of the game’s brightest stars such as Brian To’o, Junior Paulo, and Jarome Luai would be forced to choose between their country or their state.
NRL reporter Jake Duke appeared on the SPORTbible Daily podcast to discuss the potential changes and how they could ‘dilute’ the game in the future.
He said: “I feel like you’re starting to dilute the product where you’re not getting the best guys that are no longer playing State of Origin.
“Is State of Origin not your showpiece in 10 years? Because your best players aren’t playing it.”
The Fox League commentator compared the eligibility of Melbourne Storm star Jahrome Hughes and Penrtih’s Luai, and why he believes the current rules don’t make sense.
He continued: “Jahrome Hughes plays for New Zealand because he was Kiwi-born, but he can’t play for Queensland, even though he grew up in Queensland.
“Jarome Luai, born in Australia, has Samoan heritage, but he can play for Samoa and can play for New South Wales”
Adding: “If I’m Queensland, I’m sitting there thinking ‘well, why can’t I pick Jarome Hughes because you can pick Jarome Luai?’
“Why does Samoa get more of an advantage than New Zealand, when they’re beating New Zealand?”
Rather than upgrade Samoa to ‘Tier 1’ he believes the rules should get rid of tiers altogether, and instead base it on how long a player spent or played in New South Wales or Queensland when growing up.
Duke continued: “All it does is strengthen your Origin and it strengthens your international game.
“I think it’s a no-brainer, and I just think people need ot adapt to what the game is now, compared to what it was in the 80s.
“You can’t just say ‘ah it’s a tryout for the Australia team’ because it’s not.
“It’s a separate product on its own, and you’ll see guys play for the Australia team who won’t play Origin - look at Josh Addo Carr.
“The growth in rugby league comes is in the international game and it comes in the [Pacific] Islands."
Featured Image Credit: NRL/Supplied.
Topics: NRL, Australia, Rugby League