NRL Rd 19 - Panthers v Raiders
PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 28: Brian To'o of the Panthers runs the ball during the round 19 NRL match between the Panthers and Raiders at Panthers Stadium on July 28, 2019 in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Penrith Panthers and NSW Blues star winger Brian To’o has been forced to address the fallout surrounding his decision to play for Samoa over Australia at the end-of-season World Cup in England.

Speaking to Triple M last weekend, To’o declared that he would “definitely” be playing the World Cup for Samoa.

“It’s a massive opportunity to play for Australia, but my people and family mean more, so I will definitely play for my family," To'o said.

That statement reignited the yearly debate about the role of Origin in Kangaroos selection and the restrictions Origin criteria have previously placed on international representation.

But while other Origin stars like Daniel Tupou, Kotoni Staggs and even Josh Papalii could be representing Pacific nations at the World Cup pending selection, the level of criticism To’o has attracted has forced the 23-year-old to respond.

“Some people might think of (playing for) Australia with the money and stuff like that, but for me it’s about culture and legacy. I want to play with my heart,” To’o told FoxSports.

“I hope everyone can understand that. I want to apologise to everyone if I’ve hurt their feelings.”

“It was tough because my parents wanted me to play for Australia and get my name up there on the Australian side.”

“(Growing up) I never thought that my name would ever be tossed up for Australia. To be in the position I am today, having my name go back and forth, I had to choose where my heart sat.

“(My parents) found out on Social media. I know they'll always back my decision - I thought I was going to get a hiding though.”