Kiwis up in arms over Origin poaching

Kiwis up in arms over Origin poaching

Sam Kasiano's likely State of 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 prop 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 for their teams.

Despite Kasiano having signed a letter of intent to play for New Zealand just two months ago, Fairfax yesterday revealed the giant Canterbury prop was set to replace South Sydney forward Dave Taylor in the Maroons team for Origin III.

NZRL high performance general manager Kemp said he had spoken to Kasiano within the last two weeks and was aware 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 backrower 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 said. ''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 match 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.

Fairfax has been told Kasiano, 21, is likely to play for whichever Origin team picks him first.

''When they are talking about $50,000 per game, it is getting really, really hard to compete with that,'' Kemp said.

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

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

''We would consider him as a Queenslander at this stage.''

Brad Walter is Sports Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald

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