Off-field victory for NZRL over Origin criteria

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 05:00 20/12/2012
James Tamou
Getty Images
NO MORE: Cases such as that of James Tamou will be a thing of the past with the new eligibility rules.

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New Zealand Rugby League has welcomed new eligibility criteria for State of Origin that drastically reduces the potential for Kiwi talent to be poached by Queensland or New South Wales.

Outgoing NZRL chief executive Jim Doyle leaves his post tomorrow with a significant off-field victory after the Australian Rugby League Commission finally set down selection guidelines for the lucrative annual interstate series.

From 2013 Origin players must have resided in the state they have been selected for since the age of 13 - a major benefit for the NZRL because the majority of New Zealanders moving to Australia to further their league careers make the over move later in their teenage years.

The age limit means potential internationals that join NRL clubs during the final years of their education will not face the conundrum of pledging allegiance to the Kiwis, NSW or Queensland.

Palmerston North-born prop James Tamou's decision to declare for the Kangaroos and NSW this year after being on the brink of representing the Kiwis at the 2011 Four Nations tournament illustrated the difficulties the NZRL has had in retaining talent given the financial boost Origin provides.

Blues officials have also long lamented the fact Greg Inglis is playing for Queensland despite being born and raised in rural NSW - both states have also fielded players from Fiji that would not be eligible under the new criteria.

Doyle was involved in protracted negotiations with the ARLC and was delighted with the outcome.

"The most important thing is now is it's extremely clear.

"If they go there (to Australia) after 13, they'll not be allowed to play Origin. For me that's a fair reflection because their origin is not New South Wales or Queensland.

"I think 13 is a perfect age. We've got a lot of good pathways in place now, there should be no reason for people to emigrate to Australia for rugby league reasons (at that age).

"If the parents go there for work, that's fine, it happens.

"The ones who go for rugby league reasons would be 15-16-17 year olds, who we won't lose."

While the NZRL has lost the likes of Tamou, Canberra Raiders back rower Josh Papalii and Auckland-born Brisbane-turned South Sydney second rower Ben Te'o they were successful in convincing NRL prop of the year Sam Kasiano that his future lay with the Kiwis.

The Bulldogs front rower was courted by Queensland before he aligned himself to the Kiwis for October's trans-Tasman test - but had the new rules been in place this year he would have been off limits to the Maroons because he arrived in Brisbane when he was 16.

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The ARLC also specified Origin players must be eligible to play for Australia while the son of a former NSW or Queensland player has the choice of representing their father's team or the region where they grew up.

- Stuff

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