New South Wales Blues State of Origin coach Brad Fittler has confirmed that Joseph Suaalii will be considered for State of Origin if he is available.
It comes as the fallout from the star back's signing with Rugby Australia from the start of the 2025 season continues.
Suaalii last weekend confirmed his future, signing a deal that will take him to the 15-man code for 2025, 2026 and 2027 - including the British and Irish Lions tour in 2025, and the Rugby World Cup, to be held in Australia during 2027.
While barbs have been traded between Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'Landys and his counterpart in rugby union, it was Canterbury Bulldogs director of football Phil Gould who caused outrage internally after the signing by suggesting Suaalii should exit the NRL now.
“Every time he scores a try. Every time he does something in our game people are going to refer to the fact that he's going to rugby,” Gould said on Channel Nine's 100% Footy on Monday night.
“Why do we need that? Go now. Don't let the door hit you on the arse on the way out. Go. Go now. Gone. He's made his decision. You sign a contract for rugby 18 months before his league contract ends.
“You can't sign with any other rugby league club in that time. He can only sign somewhere else. He's made his decision. I have nothing against the kid. I've loved having him in the NRL. He's a tremendous athlete and is great for the game. But he's decided to be a rugby player. Bye bye. Off you go.”
Fittler, speaking on the Freddy and the Eighth podcast though, said simply that we shouldn't be talking about it, and that Suaalii would be considered for Origin if available.
"What we should do is not talk about it," Fittler said.
"If he is available [for State of Origin], he will be considered."
Gould's original comment on Monday night has led to him and Roosters' coach Trent Robinson trading words this week, with Robinson suggesting the comment was "ridiculous".
"It was a ridiculous comment," Robinson said in response to Gould.
"That was a guy looking after another club (the Bulldogs), (making) a ridiculous comment to say about Joey and what he would do."
"He can stick to his turf and we'll stick to ours and how we want to deal with it."
Gould then retorted on the Six Tackles with Gus podcast, saying he didn't care what Robinson said.
"You mistake me for someone who cares what he says," Gould said on Six Tackles with Gus.
"He can only stick up for his player, and he's got to build a relationship with the player because he's got another 18 months.
"I fear nothing, and I fear no one, so I don't know what he's talking about there.
"I don't care that Trent Robinson loves rugby. I don't love rugby, I don't even watch rugby. I have no interest in it whatsoever."
Sitting next to Fittler on the Freddy and the Eighth podcast though, Andrew Johns said he wants the issue to go away, and that he doesn't want to hear about it.
"I can see both sides of it," Johns said on Freddy and the Eighth.
"I don't agree with Gus that he should go now.
"You know what I hope. I hope that we just stop talking about it. And as commentators, when he scores, I don't want to hear, oh well, he is going to be missed when he goes to rugby."
Asked whether he thinks Suaalii is a chance of playing State of Origin this year, Johns suggested that Josh Addo-Carr and Brian To'o may be ahead in the pecking order, but that Suaalii will be a chance if he is in form.
"Well, there's [Josh] Addo-Carr, there's [Brian] To'o off the top of my head. He is in with a chance though if his form warrants it. I'd say Freddy will pick him if his form warrants it," Johns said.
Suaalii, who has moved to centre this season for the Roosters, has already made 14 tackle breaks in 3 games and is averaging 143 metres per contest.
Should the Blues be at full fitness however, it's likely Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic would win the race for the centre spots, leaving Suaalii fighting for a place on the wing.
Origin teams ahead of the series opener will be picked in May, leaving another eight rounds before squads must be settled upon.