Kiwi or Kangaroo? Kasiano keeps everyone guessing
Brothers in arms … Bulldogs stars Frank Pritchard, left, and Sam Kasiano will line up against the Storm today. Photo: Marco Del Grande
SAM KASIANO has fended off fresh requests to commit to the Kiwis or Kangaroos before the grand final.
The Auckland-born NRL prop of the year is a certainty for Kiwis selection, having previously signed a non-binding letter of intent stating his wish to represent his nation of birth. But whether he lines up in the black jersey in the October 13 Kiwis v Kangaroos trans-Tasman Test remains a mystery, with Kasiano and his management refusing approaches from the NZRL and the ARL Commission in the lead-in to the grand final.
''He is going to make a call before the teams are announced on Monday,'' his manager, Damien McGregor-Lowndes, told The Sun-Herald. ''The Kiwis will no doubt look to name him … they have no reason not to name him. But we will be trying to ensure we want people to be informed before the teams are named publicly. Nothing will be announced before the game … he really just wants the focus to be on the game. ''
When asked whether the delay was because Kasiano was yet to make up his mind, McGregor-Lowndes said: ''He is not saying anything to anyone until the final [is over].''
A source within the NZRL had earlier said they had hoped to be informed of Kasiano's eligibility yesterday. The ARLC is also understood to have sought an indication of whether Kasiano was making himself available for the Kiwis or Kangaroos.
Kasiano's manager has sought clarification from the ARLC about mooted changes to State of Origin eligibility rules. One suggested change would prevent NSW and Queensland from selecting any player who did not reside in the respective states before the age of 15.
Kasiano moved to Queensland when he was 16.
NZRL football manager Tony Kemp said: ''Sam still hasn't indicated anything other than he is playing for New Zealand. So barring injury, he will be selected for the Kiwis until we hear otherwise. All parties know that … we have told everyone that. The issue would be if he came out and said, 'I want to play for Australia.' But we haven't heard that. We are under the impression that he is playing for New Zealand.''
Nathan Cayless, who led New Zealand to their historic World Cup victory over Australia in 2008, said the likes of James Tamou, and perhaps Kasiano, would continue to adopt the green-and-gold battle colours unless the Kiwis countered the $50,000 per game players are set to receive for competing in State of Origin. "It would be disappointing if Sam Kasiano didn't play for New Zealand because I understand he's been earmarked for it and has been in the system for the last couple of years,'' Cayless said. ''But in saying that, the carrot that's there, to play State of Origin, is a pretty big one at the moment. State of Origin is a massive industry and unless the NZRL do something to provide as much of an incentive to play for New Zealand in terms of the representative payments, there'll be that discrepancy between playing State of Origin or for your country.''
Former Kiwi winger Daryl Halligan said that as a father of four children who were born and raised in Australia, he thought individuals should decide which side of the Tasman they considered their home.
''My children have grown up here in Australia and I'm a Kiwi,'' he said. ''My eldest daughter is nearly 20 and if she considers herself an Australian by virtue of living here, then so be it. It's not my decision. I have a different opinion [on Kasiano's allegiance] than other guys because I believe he'll know what to do.
''My view is if my children decide they're Australian that's fine. However, if they want to hold onto their heritage to the birthplace of their mother and father … then it's their call at the end of the day and not mine,'' Halligan said.