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Origin eligibility ruling still raises questions

Date

Steve Mascord

Origin debate ... Queensland's Greg Inglis

Origin debate ... Queensland's Greg Inglis Photo: Getty Images

Given the space this column has devoted to State of Origin eligibility during the past 12 months, it's as plain as the nose on the face of someone with quite a big nose that we have to address the ARLC's decision on the issue this week.

The first aspect of the decision – that you must live in a state before the age of 13 in order to be eligible for that state – is interesting in the way it surprised everyone.

Have you ever known rugby league to keep a secret like that right up until it was announced?

Once again, the commission has shown some grace by conducting its investigations, taking recommendations, and handing down decisions away from the glare of the media and the confusion of incremental leaks.

As Discord has said before, this sort of united, organised behaviour is bad for beat reporters like us but good for the game.

OK, a few questions thrown up by the ruling.

1) Can Greg Inglis still have his offspring born in Queensland and qualify for the Maroons if that child continues to live south of the border?

The question of what constitutes “living” in a state has not been explained. If you get straight out of hospital after being welcomed into the world and are then whisked to another state, who do you play for?

2) What happens to players raised in other Australian states?

This is not a problem, in my view. If you were raised in Western Australia or the Northern Territory, why should you play for NSW or Queensland? Wouldn't it be great to see those states play curtain-raisers to Origin with NRL players involved? NSW and Queensland nicking those players previously was unseemly and destructive.

3) Will clubs steal Kiwi players under the age of 12?

New Zealand high performance manager Tony Kemp seems to think so but there appears to be a misapprehension across the Tasman that the clubs work for NSW and Queensland. They do not. Club recruiters work for their clubs and there is no reason they will start signing tiny kids to help State Of Origin teams. If clubs don't sign 11-year-olds from New Zealand now, these new rules provide absolutely no incentive for them to start.

4) Can players represent an Australian state and a foreign country in the same year?

Sadly, the answer still appears to be "no". What the ruling has done is ease the problem that caused us to back that change. It would have been nice – but for the time being this regulation will slow the terrible trend of players who go to Australia purely to play professional rugby league then representing Australia. That was hurting the game and now won't happen as often. If you move with your family for economic reasons at a young age, you can play for Origin. If you go because an NRL club offered you a contract, you represent where you come from. There's beauty in it.

5) Does the rule apply to Australia?

OK, you still have to be eligible to play for Australia if you want to take part in Origin. But what if you moved here after the age of 13 and still want to represent Australia? Will you be eligible? Certainly, on residency grounds, you will be. That rule applies equally to all countries. So we'll have the completely new situation of men turning out in green and gold who are unable to ever play Origin! The first man to do this will be one helluva player, though.

6) So, can Feleti Mateo, Akuila Uate, Jarryd Hayne and Tariq Sims go back to representing other countries at the World Cup if they miss out on Australian selection?

They haven't told us yet. Please let us know. And please let the answer be “yes”.

Discord also likes – and campaigned in our own small way for – the abolition of Benefit of the Doubt.

But how about what they've replaced it with?

If a referee makes a series of try calls on the field that are subsequently over-ruled by the video ref, but is otherwise officiating well, are we supposed to overlook it?

Will it count against him in appointments? Will it dent his confidence to “go public” with his opinion only to be over-ruled repeatedly?

Personally, I believe the more up-front and transparent we are at all stages of the decision-making process, the better.

But these are all issues worth considering.

On the shoulder charge, my understanding is that very little will actually change next season – in what will be seen by many as a softening of a stance that was unwelcome in many areas.

As long as the arm is out and not tucked in, all the same hits will occur. It's like challenging a kicker. If you get there too late or don't wrap your arms around him, you're in trouble but people still do it.

Sonny, just remember to have your arm out when you smash blokes and you're sweet.

Also, unless there is high contact, the incidents will not even be reviewed on Monday.

Let's go to the comments ...

Last week's column appeared in, at last count, three forms so I understand it was hard for you to leave comments. You can find an unedited version of it over at stevemascord.com.

You'll find all the responses to the previous week's column there too.

SamDavisJr said we should stop saying "star". It's all relative. They're not all stars in the context of the NRL but if you are a first grader, you are a star in the context of the wider community. Sorry mate, I'm gonna keep using it. They're stars to me.

Stojo01 supported my point about press conferences being pointless if no one asks a question.

Ian is one of a band of readers who responds to anything in the column (since it moved to the Herald) by saying "rugby league is dying". If you say so, Ian.

Here's the forum.

Here's the podcast.

9 comments so far

  • The answer to question 1 is the father / son clause. His father plays for QLD so he would qualify for QLD not matter where he was born or raised....did you miss that one Steve?

    Commenter
    LooSE_AppLEs
    Date and time
    December 21, 2012, 11:29AM
    • Does anyone else find the origin rules a farce? And the people dreaming them up devoid of any knowledge of the history of why they are there in the first place? Maybe they are laid off public servants trying to hone their red tape skills.

      Origin started because one team got thrashed every year, it was a way of evening up the talent. NSW had poker machines thus richer clubs. So to even up the series players who has started in QLD were able to go back and play for them. The whole point was to even up the matches, not make some perfect list of who can play where.

      Now, the teams are almost even, a different bounce or a line call and NSW would have won several of the past series. You could even play QLD based NRL players against NSW ones and it would be even, the QLD clubs can stand on their own.

      Looking for some kind of perfection is a fool's errand. Look how the video ref is going, trying to get it perfect just takes away from the game. There will always be a player who slips through the cracks.

      Commenter
      elvis
      Date and time
      December 21, 2012, 1:17PM
      • I think we need to go back to the origin of state of origin.

        In days gone by (up until the late 70’s) the state clash was largely used to pick the Australian team.

        In those days when NSW had money from pokies and Qld didn’t, any ½ decent player in Qld was quickly picked up by a NSW team. The result was NSW always won by an embarrassing score. Probably 20 or more of the 26 players on the field were Queenslanders.

        State of origin was ½ heartedly agreed to by NSW (but only as a one off, as they feared a level playing field would be unfair to them) But I digress. The players pillaged by NSW were established players essentially from the Brisbane comp.

        I don’t think we need to look at where they lived before turning 13 but as in the original, where they first played rep football (ie a district team rather than the local club). The premise of origin was which state was responsible for the player’s development. That premise should remain as it underpins the whole concept .

        Under the “living” rule, it seems that it is possible to qualify for both states (you have to have “lived” in the state before turning and not be living in the state when turning 13).

        This is the essence of Queensland’s mantra and motivation and is one reason why they have won 7 series on the trot.

        Commenter
        neamo
        Location
        sydney
        Date and time
        December 21, 2012, 2:17PM
        • Steve,
          Like most people, I think my solution is best.
          When you play your first first-grade game you are required to fill in a form stating your country of affiliation; if that country is Australia you state whether you want to play for NSW or Queensland. It should be a question of identity, not where you lived at a certain point in your life. Once you state these choices they are immutable. If GI was a Macksville boy but followed the Maroons, then let him be a Maroon. If Sterlo was born in Qld but saw himself as a NSWelshman, let him select that option.
          The only catch is that your affiliation is forever. If you say you are a Kiwi, then no Origin for you. If you say you are an Aussie, no switching to England (yes I'm thinking of you Heighno). Will we see players paid inducements after one FG game to pick a certain country and/or state? It's not super-likely, but make it illegal anyway with the player being given a five year ban from rep footy.
          What do you reckon is wrong with my (genius) scheme?

          Commenter
          Mike
          Date and time
          December 21, 2012, 2:33PM
          • One glaring flaw in your plan Mike. If you are born & raised in one place, but decide you want to play for another -- for whatever reason, probably because you are young & gullible -- let's say a place that you had never even visited. And let's say this happens a few years before you even play First Grade. It has nothing to do with Origin. Actually, it is cheating. Couldn't happen? Macksville is not in Queensland.

            Commenter
            Lothar
            Location
            New South Wales
            Date and time
            December 21, 2012, 5:17PM
          • Lothar, where did you buy your atlas? Of course Macksville is in Qld, everywhere is potentially in Qld. Depends how good the player is.

            Commenter
            Big W
            Location
            Qld
            Date and time
            December 21, 2012, 6:15PM
          • Lothai,
            This is precisely my point. GI is a Macksville lad but feels some special connection to Qld - dunno why; that's his business - then he commits to play for Aust/Qld after his first FG game. He is then representing the place that he feels connected to, and we never have to worry again about complicated formulae for deciding place of origin. For obvious reasons, the vast majority of players will want to represent the place where they have grown up - but if you are born in Sydney of Kiwi parents and really feel like an NZer, your entire emotional connection is to NZ rather than Australia, then that is what you nominate - and you have to stick with that. And likewise with Origin. Evidently GI felt a connection to Qld over NSW; good luck to him.

            Commenter
            Mike
            Date and time
            December 21, 2012, 6:46PM
        • Is this Origin under 13 rule going to be called the James Tamou rule? As far as I can see it is a knee jerk reaction to the QLD selection of James Tamou. When Justin Horo plays for NSW but then turns out for the Kiwis are we going to have another rule called the Justin Horo rule. Perhaps a Burgess rule for the Burgess brothers so they can play for NSW and England/GB. James Tamou got selected for Australia because the NZ coaches couldn't recognize talent equivalent to that of Brad Thorn, Australian and QLD coaches could.
          It all comes down to NRL players getting to a certain level where they have put that much into their careers that they want to play for the highest level they can and it doesn't matter whether it is QLD, NSW or AUS and NZ. The new rule is more of a reflection on the size of the talent pool and the restraint of trade that is the salary cap. The only possible result is a large pool of, probably, polynesian players ineligible for any representative selection available for NRL clubs while State of Origin fixtures are played. So in that respect it could probably be called the two birds rule.

          Commenter
          stojo01
          Location
          Zeadney
          Date and time
          December 23, 2012, 1:17AM
          • Tamou played for NSW in 2012 after living in NZ for 13 years 8 years in NSW and 3 years in QLD. Perhaps a better solution is if you arrived before February 2001 then you can play for NSW and QLD if you arrived after that date then since your joining the queue for sponsorship to become an Australian citizen you can't. Pretty simple rule really it should apply to Rugby League as well as every other workplace in Australia

            Commenter
            stojo01
            Location
            Zeadney
            Date and time
            December 27, 2012, 9:09PM

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