Inglis vows to keep Maroons in the family

STEVE MASCORD
Last updated 08:56 12/10/2012
Greg Inglis
Getty Images
BALL WATCHING: Greg Inglis goes through his paces at training during the week in preparation for tomorrow's Test in Townsville.

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Australia centre Greg Inglis plans to future-proof his children against changes to rugby league eligibility rules by insisting they be born in Queensland.

As the wrangling over who should play for which state and country reaches its climax among officials, Inglis suggested the criticism he has received for choosing the Maroons despite being raised in northern NSW had made him determined that his future offspring be Queenslanders.

''I'm pretty sure they'll be Queenslanders ... we'll go back over the border,'' Inglis said before tomorrow's trans-Tasman Test at Dairy Farmers Stadium. ''But we're talking, probably, another few years yet. It's their choice in the end, whatever they want to do.''

Inglis said he had sympathy for Australian teammate James Tamou, who switched to Australia this year after representing the Maori and was so stunned by the backlash he stayed in his Auckland hotel room before his green-and-gold debut in April.

''I was copping a lot of criticism over it,'' said Inglis, who qualified for Queensland due to Melbourne's feeder team being Brisbane Norths. ''When it was first asked, 'Who do you want to play for?' ... what it says in the rule book, that's just the way it is.

''They pledge their eligibility. If people don't like it, they've just got to live with it. They're putting on the green and gold and that's it.''

The Herald this week reported that the Rugby League International Federation wanted Australia to end the current situation where the lure of Origin was helping the green and golds recruit players who would otherwise represent other countries. But the ARLC has no plans to present any proposals when the boards of the two countries meet tomorrow and the only scheme under serious consideration is stopping Junior Kiwis from playing Origin. There are fears this would simply dissuade players from making themselves available for the Junior Kiwis and make the Junior Kangaroos stronger by virtue of the same process that has led Tamou and Josh Papalii to opt for Australia at senior level this year.

The ARLC does not believe it owes the RLIF or New Zealand any undertakings on changes to Origin selection criteria as it is a domestic issue. This could lead to Origin players being chosen by other countries, as Anthony Minichiello was last year when he represented both NSW and Italy without changing his country of election.

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The Australians had yesterday off while the Kiwis followed a morning media session with school visits.

Prop Adam Blair, whose role as the competition's highest-paid forward has proved the catalyst of the upheavals at Wests Tigers over the past 12 months - including the axing of coach Tim Sheens - admitted he did not deserve to be in the Kiwi squad.

The recruitment of Blair, who replaced the injured Jeremy Smith in the Test squad, prompted the departure of Bryce Gibbs and Andrew Fifita last year and others such as Beau Ryan and Chris Heighington moving on recently was reported to have turned players against Sheens.

''With how I played this year and what I did for the club, I didn't think I deserved to be in front of the boys who played finals footy,'' Blair said. ''I got caught up in that kind of stuff where it took me away from what I do best for myself and how I play footy. Once I got that sorted, which was the back end of the season which was really too late, I tried to do the things I used to do but it wasn't what the Tigers needed of me. When I'm defending well, I'm playing well. That's one of the things I went away from this year, being a strong defender. That's one of the things I need to work on.''

Blair said he was relaxed about Wests Tigers not having appointed a coach for 2012. ''My future's secure at the Tigers, I can't worry about anything else,'' he said.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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