Rugby League

Dumped Maroons still eligible for Australian Kangaroos selection

Their State of Origin hopes have been dashed but the eight banned Queenslanders could still represent the Kangaroos this season.

Fairfax Media can reveal that the 12-month ban handed to fringe Origin players Anthony Milford, Ben Hunt and Dylan Napa will not impact on potential Australian selection. Hunt played three Tests for the Kangaroos in 2014, while Milford and Napa have been part of recent Prime Ministers XIII matches.

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Emerging Origin stars banned

Two emerging State of Origin players are banned from playing for Queensland for a year after breaking curfew in Brisbane on Saturday night: Vision: Channel Seven

An NRL spokesman confirmed the players could be selected in Mal Meninga's squad for either the mid-year Test against New Zealand or the end-of-year Four-Nations tour.

"The players are not ineligible to be selected for Australia," the spokesman said. "But it would be unusual for them to be selected for the Kangaroos without having played State of Origin."

Rising star: Valentine Holmes.
Rising star: Valentine Holmes. Photo: Getty Images

The versatility of Hunt and Milford could see them force their way into an extended Kangaroos squad while Napa was on the verge of Origin selection.

Queensland veteran Sam Thaiday said his Brisbane teammates were going through a "tough time".


Milford and Hunt plus emerging prop Jarrod Wallace were among eight players suspended from Origin after breaking curfew while part of a Queensland Origin camp. Others included Edrick Lee, Chris Grevsmuhl, Valentine Holmes and Cameron Munster.

New Maroons coach Kevin Walters announced the extended ban in Auckland on Friday after Holmes and Munster were originally the only two to be stood down.

Thaiday expected his teammates to bounce back.

"It's a very tough time for them," he said. "You don't want to be in the paper or in the news for the wrong reasons.

"They will learn from this lesson. That's what mistakes are all about. Learning from them and growing and getting bigger and stronger."

Munster returned to the field with the Storm in the Auckland Nines on Saturday while Hunt and Milford took to the field against the Cowboys in a pre-season match in Bundaberg. It was Hunt's only hit-out before the season proper after accepting a one-game ban following last years grand final loss to North Queensland.

Thaiday said he was yet to speak to his trio of teammates.

"I know with everything in the media at the moment they don't need any more distractions," he said. "They need to make sure they get a good game under their belt, especially Benny because he only gets one trial because of his suspension.

"I hope they put all this behind them."

Walters confirmed he had sought the advice of senior players including Cameron Smith, although Thaiday was not among those to be sounded out by Mal Meninga's replacement. Thaiday backed Walters' decision despite not being consulted.

"Of course I do," Thaiday said. "I want to play Queensland.

"I'm too cheeky. He doesn't speak to me about serious matters.

"He didn't have a chat to me at all. He has made his decision. He is the coach now and that's his job and his role to make the hard decisions and he has made some hard ones there."

After setting the Auckland Nines alight last year, Holmes was stood down for the tournament.

Walters said the players needed to make "smarter choices".

"Obviously I'm disappointed with the actions of the players but we need to protect the Queensland Rugby League State of Origin team," he said.

"They know they made a poor decision and they're quite upset about it. You have to be responsible for everything that you do. If you can't be responsible then you don't drink. We're trying to protect the brand of Queensland Rugby League and State of Origin."

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