SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 20: Dylan Walker of the Sea Eagles looks dejected after the try to Cameron Murray of the Rabbitohs during the NRL Semi Final match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Manly Sea Eagles at ANZ Stadium on September 20, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

With the World Cup looming larger for players who won’t be taking part in the NRL finals, Manly Sea Eagles utility Dylan Walker has been dealt a cruel blow, with his hopes of representing New Zealand set to be dashed by international eligibility rules.

Despite the raft of players announcing their intention to represent Pacific Island nations like Tonga and Samoa over recent years, Walker’s hopes of playing for the Kiwis are far more restricted.

Walker represented Australia at the 2014 Four Nations tournament, making four appearances. Now, eight years after his only foray into international football, that handful of appearances a long time could stop him from fulfilling his dream of playing for his father’s homeland.

Walker has represented the Maori All-Stars three times, but is still ineligible to represent New Zealand as they’re another Tier-One nation – but he and his team will appeal the decision.

“We lodged a submission for Dylan but they said no,” Walker’s lawyer Greg Peters told the Daily Telegraph.

“We were invited to submit further information, which we’re assembling now.”

The Telegraph reports Walker’s team will point to the number of changes to international qualification rules made since Walker last appeared for the Kangaroos – despite the Tier 1 nation rule remaining a constant throughout that time.

“It’s something I’ve become very passionate about,” Walker said.

“Especially since I started playing for the NZ Maori team. It would be an honour to wear the (Kiwis) jersey.

“Being in the Maori camp, I learnt a lot about my culture and that was a sort of self-healing for me.

“I dived deep into myself in just trying to be a better person as a father, partner, teammate…

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt that sort of pride or passion in a jumper before, because that jersey represents me and my people.”