‘Absurdity’ slammed amid rep footy squabble

Phil Gould has renewed his tirade on those who think that footballers who play for countries other than Australia shouldn’t be allowed on the State of Origin stage, branding the view “absurdity”.

Gould also labeled governance of international football “useless” and declared the NRL must sixteen global control of the sport, after a major Brian To’o decision reignited the long-time representative argument.

The boom New South Wales winger revealed last week he’d be available for Samoa, not Australia, at the Rugby League World Cup, set to begin on October 15.

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Rugby league’s representative rules state that those who play for second-tier nations, such as Samoa and Tonga, can also feature in Origin if eligible.

However, footballers cannot play Origin if they choose to represent a tier-one country other than Australia. The other tie-one nations are New Zealand and England.

That’s why To’o, Stephen Crichton, Josh Papalii and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui can play Origin and for Samoa, but Jason Taumalolo, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Jordan Rapana can’t set foot on the Origin stage.

“I think it’s something that we may have to look at going forward,” Paul Gallen said on Nine’s 100% Footy.

“What happens when Tonga and Samoa eventually become a tier-one nation? They’re not far off it now. I mean, Tonga has beaten in recent games Australia and New Zealand.

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“So, what happens when they become a tier-one nation? What do you do then? Are Kiwi players then allowed to play Origin?

“Some of the players that are playing for the Polynesian countries: To’o, (Jarome) Luai, (Daniel) Tupou, (Kotoni) Staggs, Crichton, (Siosifa) Talakai. There’s absolutely brilliant talent there. If they become tier- one quality and start beating Australia and New Zealand, should they be allowed to play Origin or not?”

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Gould unleashed.

“I just can’t stand the absurdity of the argument. I really can’t,” Gould said.

“Origin and international football are two completely different beasts.

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“For all of history everyone who’s grown up and played in Australia has played for Australia, we’ve belted everyone (and) there’s been no international football we’re serving up. We’ve killed everyone off.

“Suddenly we get an opportunity to create a whole new range of international football with the Pacific Islands, the Kiwis, even taking over the UK Super League and helping them get themselves back on the map again. We have emerging nations who love to play in second third.”

Gould has an affinity with the Blues and many past and present players to whom the eligibility argument is relevant.

He coached NSW to six series wins across the 1990s and 2000s, and orchestrated the rises of western Sydney juniors To’o, Luai, Crichton and James Fisher-Harris as Panthers general manager.

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“What is your problem with letting kids who grow up in this country play State of Origin and go on to play for their country of heritage?” Gould said.

“You only respond to one national anthem. When the national anthem plays, you put your hand on your heart and that’s the one that brings a tear to your eye. That’s the one you should play for. But they should not be stopped from playing Origin soccer.

“International football is a whole new world that’s never been explored. We’ve had a useless international board. The NRL needs to take control of it, it needs to take control of world rugby league.

“There is a real opportunity there for a whole new level and a whole new brand of football. If anyone can’t see that they are brain-dead. Absolutely brain-dead.”

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