Origin debate heats up over Sims confusion
The ARL Commission says it has put steps in place to end farcical State of Origin eligibility tug-of-wars, but admits it's powerless to stop brothers Tariq and Korbin Sims facing off for different states in the future.
Having weathered the controversy surrounding James Tamou switching allegiances from New Zealand to Australia ahead of his Kangaroos debut in Auckland this Friday, the rugby league community is bracing for a scenario where two brothers could go head to head in Origin.
Tariq, who on Sunday will look to impress NSW coach Ricky Stuart when he makes his representative debut for Country, is determined to play for the Blues.
Younger brother Korbin, who will be at Penrith on Saturday night playing for Queensland in the inaugural Under 20s State of Origin, has aligned with Queensland.
This is despite growing up under the same roof in Gerringong, roughly 90 minutes south of Sydney.
Further clouding the issue is the revelation that under the rules introduced this year, Korbin would qualify for Country and NSW.
But based on the problematic old system, he is a Queenslander as he played his first senior rugby league game after age 16 in Queensland - an error which cannot be undone.
"It would be an unusual situation (having two brothers playing on opposing sides in Origin), but we can't have a rule that is retrospective," the ARL's director of league integration and development Andrew Hill told AAP.
"The new rule is designed to commence for players commencing their representative football from this year.
"It's difficult to make a retrospective ruling.
"Under the new eligibility guidelines, there was a clear message that if you've already participated in representative football (from under 18s onwards) then that would stand."
That means Korbin, having played Queensland under 18s last year, and the likes of Greg Inglis, who has played 15 matches for Queensland but would be a Blue under new guidelines, will continue to wear maroon.
Tariq Sims seemed slightly miffed by his younger brother's decision to shun the sky blue, but said he was still proud of the Newcastle prop with a bright future.
"It's his decision that he wanted to align with those Queenslanders," Tariq told AAP.
"I'm proud of him, but he's born and bred in Gezza (Gerringong) but, oh well.
"He's his own man. He can stand on his own two feet and stand by his decisions. He's going to do well for himself."
Tariq left no doubt over where his allegiances lie - saying that he was desperate to impress this weekend to further his chances of an Origin call-up this year for the Blues.
"Hopefully, I get on the field on the weekend and do my best that I can do and show (Country coach) Laurie (Daley) and my teammates and especially Ricky what I can do," Sims said.
"It would mean a lot to represent my state and my family at the highest level of football you can play.
"Everyone wants to be the best that they can be at their profession, and playing Origin is the pinnacle of rugby league so it would mean everything not only my family, my club but also my state.
"I'd be proud as punch."
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