New Zealand

NRL 2021: Jason Taumalolo, State of Origin eligibility, Queensland Maroons, Tonga, Pacific Test, Gorden Tallis

The NRL is reportedly considering a State of Origin eligibility rule change to allow Jason Taumalolo to play for the Queensland Maroons.

The NRL is reportedly considering a State of Origin qualification rule change to allow Tongan icon Jason Taumalolo to play for Queensland — and it isn’t sitting well with a number of names in the game.

The Daily Telegraphis reporting Taumalolo’s manager, Chris Orr, has approached new Maroons mentor Paul Green — who coached Taumalolo at the Cowboys — to put forward the superstar lock’s services.

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Furthermore, the Telegraph reports that Wayne Pearce is already conducting a review of the current eligibility criteria after NSW coach Brad Fittler raised the idea last year.

The proposed plan would see the Pacific Islands Test matches moved to the end of the season to allow stars like Taumalolo play Origin — provided they lived in NSW or Qld before they turned 13.

Triple M’s Dan Ginnane is far from supportive of the idea.

“He is not from Queensland. He’s Tongan and played for New Zealand as well,” he told Triple M’s Sunday Sinbin.

“I am so sick of players not Origin eligible saying ‘I want to play Origin’. Of course you want to play Origin, it pays a sh*tload and it’s the best product we’ve got.

“Last decade it was ‘oh how are we going to get Sonny Bill Williams playing in Origin.’ Well bad luck, it’s the best thing going in our game and we want to stuff it up.”

Taumalolo is no doubt one of the best forwards in the game. But he’s played represented New Zealand 10 times and Tonga 11 times since he made his representative debut in 2013.

Maroons great Gorden Tallis played 17 Origin games. He believes the idea shouldn’t even be considered.

“We got past that when Tonga beat England and they beat Australia. That conversation left the table way back then,” he said.

“It’s happened with both states with (Akuila) Uate and all those guys playing for NSW and Qld.

“I would rather lose as a Queenslander with the best Qld kids than win having non-Queenslanders in it. It’s as simple as that.”

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Pearce — who is expected to finish his review within the next three weeks — was quoted in the Telegraph saying: “Why should players who are passionate about playing for Tonga not be allowed to play State of Origin? We want the best players playing Origin.”

The Daily Telegraph’s Paul Kent answered his concern, and went on to point out that messing with the fabric of the contest could see fans lose interest.

“I’ll give you a very simple answer to that, because it stops somebody who’s passionate about playing for Queensland, playing for Queensland. That’s why they shouldn’t be allowed,” he told Triple M.

“This myth that it’s the best of the best, it was the best of the best at one point, it’s no longer that. But whatever it is, the magic dust that’s been sprinkled on Origin, if it becomes a rest of the world versus the rest of the girl game then it will lose that magic.

“Queenslanders will stop caring about it when there’s four Tongans, three Fijians and eight Samoans running out for their side and only one Queenslander sitting on the bench.”

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