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Kiwis hit out at Origin coaches as Kasiano nears Maroons switch

SAM KASIANO'S likely Origin selection has sparked a scathing attack on rival NSW and Queensland coaches Ricky Stuart and Mal Meninga from leading New Zealand official Tony Kemp.

With Kasiano set to become the second Kiwi to switch allegiances so he can play in this year's Origin series, Kemp said something had to be done to stop Stuart and Meninga poaching players.

Despite having signed a letter of intent to play for New Zealand just two months ago, TheSun-Herald yesterday revealed the giant Canterbury prop was set to replace Dave Taylor for the Maroons in Origin III.

Kemp said he had spoken to Kasiano within the past two weeks and was aware that he had again been approached to make himself available for Queensland.

He said Meninga was still also pursuing North Queensland prop Jason Taumalolo and Canberra back-rower Josh Papalii, who, like Kasiano and NSW prop James Tamou, are eligible to play for both New Zealand and Australia.

''That doesn't seem to matter to NSW or Queensland,'' Kemp told the Herald. ''You have got Mal and Ricky running around thinking they want to win and they will do anything to win it.


''They think that because [NRL clubs] come over here and scour for talent to bring over there at a young age, that those kids are actually Australians when they are not.

''The kids are confused and Sam Kasiano is no different. We have spoken to Sam, but it is the same as James Tamou - he signed a letter of intent to play for his homeland, which is New Zealand, but NSW and Queensland are pretty attractive for kids.''

With NSW and Queensland players seeking $50,000 per Origin next season, Kemp said players with dual eligibility would find it harder to remain loyal to New Zealand.

Kasiano, who began playing league with Otahuhu Leopards in Auckland, moved to Brisbane with his family when he was 16 years old and is eligible for Queensland after playing for Norths Devils Colts in 2009. The Herald has been told 21-year-old Kasiano is likely to play for whichever representative team picks him first.

''When they are talking about $50,000 per game, it is getting really, really hard to compete with that,'' said Kemp, who is the NZRL high performance general manager.

''I have spoken to Sam about that stuff, but at the end of the day those kids make their decisions around more than just representing their country.

''James Tamou is a prime example. He's a Palmerston North Kiwi through and through, he's inked it all over his body and there he was singing the Australian national anthem [in the April 20 Test].

''NSW and Queensland don't care where they are from. If a kid plays in Queensland because an NRL clubs signs him and puts him in a junior infrastructure then he is a Queenslander. Please.

''But I suppose you have to ask the question what do Queensland kids coming up through the grades think about New Zealanders filling their spots. In the position I am in there is a fundamental error in that NSW and Queensland aren't picking their own.''

Maroons selector Des Morris admitted to knowing Kasiano had pledged his loyalty to New Zealand but said he was still being considered for Origin III.

''Mal spoke to him last year. I think he did play up here, he came from up here when he was younger so we were under the impression that he was [eligible],'' Morris told ABC Radio.

''I have since learnt that he had signed an agreement with New Zealand or something. [But] we would consider him as a Queenslander at this stage.''