Raider considers Samoa switch
Josh Papalii may play for Samoa. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
He's already rejected New Zealand for Queensland, now Canberra Raiders youngster Josh Papalii is seriously considering whether to represent Samoa in this year's rugby league World Cup.
Papalii told The Sunday Canberra Times on Saturday he was weighing up whether to represent his parents' homeland at the tournament in England in November.
The Auckland-born back rower helped reignite the international eligibility debate when he chose to align himself with the Maroons late last year.
Papalii's parents, Patrick and Luama, are Samoan, and moved to New Zealand before the 20-year-old was born. Under Rugby League International Federation guidelines, Papalii would be eligible to play for Samoa in the World Cup, and pledge his allegiance back to Queensland and Australia immediately after the tournament.
He would then be ineligible to play again for Samoa for another two years, which means he could play for it in the 2017 World Cup should he miss Kangaroos selection.
Papalii could still play for Samoa in this year's World Cup, even in the unlikely event he earns Australia or Queensland honours this season.
It's a similar situation to that Parramatta star Jarryd Hayne experienced in 2008, when he played Origin for NSW, and for Fiji in the World Cup. The rule is designed to ensure the best possible players can feature in the game's showpiece, and helps the competitiveness of the smaller nations.
During last week's Queensland Origin Emerging Squad camp in Brisbane, Papalii was approached by Broncos prop Josh McGuire about his interest in playing the World Cup with Samoa.
McGuire represented Samoa against Tonga in a one-off clash in 2010, and told Papalii he rates it one of the best experiences of his life.
Asked if playing for Samoa was something he regarded as a possibility, Papalii said ''Yeah, I've been talking with a lot of the [Samoan] boys.
''Josh McGuire, who was at the [Emerging Origin] camp as well, I asked him what it was like playing for our country Samoa, and he said it was the best camp ever.
''I just want to experience the feeling that Josh McGuire went through, because he's the same as me, playing for Queensland and Samoa as well.
Papalii said he is yet to receive any official contact from Samoan officials.
''Not yet, the Raiders are my focus at the moment and I let my manager deal with that stuff,'' he said.
''It would be a good experience for me, and helping the younger guys [in the team].
''Two years ago I was last in Samoa, and I'm going again this year [after the NRL season].''
Papalii insisted he did not let last year's eligibility furore affect him, and always knew his heart lay with the Maroons.
The Souths Logan junior moved at age six to Queensland, where he developed his love for league after playing union in New Zealand.
''That never troubled me. I had awesome people to talk to like my parents and at church, and even the players here too,'' he said.
''The senior [Raiders] players like Shillo [David Shillington], Campo [Terry Campese] and even Bronson [Harrison], I asked them what they would do.
''I'm not worried about what people say. I just do my own thing and people can talk, but unless they're in my shoes they can't see how I pan out the situation.''