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Papalii chooses Queensland in league tug-of-war

Date

Chris Dutton

Josh Papalii playing for the Queensland under 18s in 2010.

Josh Papalii playing for the Queensland under 18s in 2010. Photo: Supplied

Josh Papalii admits there’s some risk in turning his back on New Zealand to pledge his commitment to Queensland, but the Canberra Raiders forward says he ‘‘had to go with my heart’’.

Papalii ended months of uncertainty when he announced today that his representative allegiance was with Queensland, not his country of birth New Zealand.

Stuck in the middle of a tug of war between state and country, Papalii spoke with league legends Mal Meninga and Ruben Wiki as well as David Shillington, Bronson Harrison and his parents before finally deciding this morning that he wanted to play State of Origin for the Maroons.

‘‘But I didn’t feel any pressure on the decision, Mal didn’t put pressure on me,’’ Papalii said.

‘‘I had to do what’s best for my family, Queensland is where I was brought up and I thought [choosing them] was the right thing to do.

‘‘I had to go with my heart ... it was a tough choice. I wish I never had to make it. If I could do both I would, but I can’t live two separate lives.’’

Papalii had to make a decision after being selected in New Zealand’s squad for next month’s Test against Australia in Townsville.

Meninga first went public about his hopes of luring Papalii into the State of Origin arena earlier this year.

But Papalii said the issue was never a distraction.

He had signed a letter of intent in August last year to play for New Zealand.

However, Papalii said ‘‘I didn’t know what I was signing’’.

‘‘It was the urge for wearing the black jersey and a few of us mates wanted to wear the New Zealand jersey.

‘‘But Queensland gave me my rugby league opportunities and that’s where I want to play now.’’

Papalii was born in Auckland, but moved to Australia when he was six and play junior rugby league with Souths Logan in Queensland.

When he arrived in Queensland, he originally wanted to play rugby union.

But Souths Logan gave him his rugby league start and that convinced Papalii that committing to Queensland was the right decision.

Papalii’s decision could have been influenced by the huge financial discrepancies between playing for the Maroons or the Kiwis.

State of Origin player payments could rise to $50,000 per game while New Zealand representatives get $5000 for each international Test.

15 comments

  • eligibility for s.o.o selection should be decided by the birthplace listed on ones birth certificate.

    Commenter
    dougie
    Location
    tiger town
    Date and time
    September 24, 2012, 1:54PM
    • It should be based on their passport

      Commenter
      Brad Grant
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      September 24, 2012, 2:03PM
    • The current eligibility rules are fine - first senior game - have to have spent more than half of your life in Australia. Papalii qualifies for Australia and Queensland under these rules. As a NSW fan I have no qualms with Papalii playing for Qld.

      Commenter
      Phillip Quist
      Location
      The Dressing Room
      Date and time
      September 24, 2012, 3:27PM
    • It can't be that black and white. I was born in Brisbane, but I've lived in NSW since I was 5. I was never going to play Origin, but despite always playing in NSW I would've rather played for QLD.
      Papalii has been in QLD since he was 6. If heritage allows him to play for NZ, but he wants to play for QLD, he should have a choice. As long as his choice is final what's the problem?
      On the other hand, Josh Hoffman chose NZ, good on him.

      Commenter
      MT
      Date and time
      September 24, 2012, 4:09PM
  • This is no loss for the Kiwis. All this interest in him after one good performance against the Sharks! Would he really make the Queensland side at the present time...I doubt it!

    Commenter
    Mangawhai
    Date and time
    September 24, 2012, 2:27PM
    • Perhaps you should watch more Raiders games? Just because it was the first time Papalii has been mentioned heavily on a Channel 9 match doesn't mean he is a one game wonder - he has been one of the most consistent players for the Raiders since coming onto the scene early in 2011. Meninga has been interested in him since the beginning of this year. He could possibly be a smokie for Origin selection if he keeps up the good form in 2013.

      Commenter
      Phillip Quist
      Location
      The Dressing Room
      Date and time
      September 24, 2012, 3:25PM
    • Just to clarify... Papali has always played like He did against the sharks.. Just all you who jumped on the bandwagon wouldn't have known that as that would have been the first game you watched in 2 or 3 years,...

      Commenter
      Shogunmatty
      Location
      Reality
      Date and time
      September 24, 2012, 3:27PM
  • I wonder if SOO wasn't tied to country rep and money. Who he'd choose. Take the money out of the equation and see where any players loyalty truly lies. He signed a document pledging his allegiance to his country of birth NZ .. I like Thurstons idea for residents playing internationals having to have lived in the country for 75% of their lives.. Clean a lot of this garbage up and preserve Internationals as a spectacle and contest. Is it any wonder that Sky tv in NZ are about to pay a pittance for RL TV rights what do Kiwis have to look forward too .. Shame that RLin NZ lives and dies on the merits of its club NRL team. Outside of that they have token international one offs and much of their destructive players playing against them for Aus. Another free pass to Rugby Union, well done ARLC.

    Commenter
    CJW72
    Location
    Dubai
    Date and time
    September 24, 2012, 3:09PM
    • I am writing from Kenya and have been told by a Tanzanian friend that I qualify to play rugby league for Queensland. Octavian who was born and lives in Romania also qualifies. Nothing like the State of Origin.

      Commenter
      Kipketa
      Date and time
      September 24, 2012, 3:21PM
      • Of course you are eligible my son! Please, sign here.

        Commenter
        Mal Meninga
        Date and time
        September 24, 2012, 5:03PM

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