Bulldogs star Sam Kasiano will be unable to play for Queensland under a new State of Origin eligibility rule even if the New Zealand-born prop pledges his international allegience to Australia ahead of the upcoming Trans-Tasman Test.
Kasiano, who qualifies to play for the Kangaroos and Kiwis, is due to make a decision on which country he wants to represent before Sunday's grand final at ANZ Stadium amid fears in New Zealand that he may follow Canberra's Josh Papali and choose Australia.
With the RLPA pushing for Origin match payments of A$50,000 per game next season, officials are concerned that the international game will be eroded by more Kiwis with dual eligibility turning their back on New Zealand.
Kasiano, who played his junior football for Otahuhu Leapards in Auckland, pledged his allegience to the Kiwis earlier this year but can change his mind until he plays a Test for New Zealand.
Papali, who has been courted by Maroons coach Mal Meninga, also signed a letter earlier this year declaring his desire to represent the Kiwis but said yesterday that he now wanted to play Origin for Queensland after moving to Brisbane when he was six years old.
However, Kasiano won't have the same opportunity if the ARL Commission endorses a proposed Origin eligibility rule change that would prevent NSW and Queensland from selecting any player who did not reside in the state before the age of 15.
Under the new Origin qualification rules, which are being drafted in response to the controversy overAustralia's selection of James Tamou earlier this year, Kasiano would be ineligible to play Origin as he did not move to Queensland until he was 16-years-old.
However, the 21-year-old front rower could still opt to play for Australia as international eligibility rules enable a player to represent a country he has resided in for three years.
ARLC league integration and development manager Andrew Hill said that because of the residency rule in international football he had been asked to focus on Origin eligibility in a bid to discourage Kiwis from turning their back on New Zealand.
''I am currently looking at changes to State of Origin eligibility and in essence I suppose the question we are asking is what makes you a Queenslander,'' Hill said.
''I am looking at a number of options that we are in the process of discussing now with a number of prominent rugby league people who have been a part of the game and State of Origin for a number of years and understand the broad issue that we are trying to deal with.
''We will continue to work on those guidelines in the off-season.''
A new policy will be in place before the 2013 State of Origin series and it is expected that players who did not move to Australia before the age of 15 will be ineligible to represent NSW and Queensland, although some people believe the age limit should be lower.
The criteria will also apply to the NSW and Queensland Under 18s teams, and therefore 15 years of age is likely to be the cut-off as players who move to Australia earlier can still qualify for those teams on residency grounds under international rules.
A potential loophole that would enable players who were recruited by Australian clubs at a younger age to qualify was closed earlier this year when clubs and agents were prohibited from signing anyone under the age of 15.
However, New Zealand officials are concerned the proposed eligibility rules do not go far enough and want players to represent the country they had lived in for 50 per cent of their life.
- Sydney Morning Herald