SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 01: Jarome Luai runs with the ball during a Blues State of Origin training session at Coogee Oval on June 01, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Queensland great Mal Meninga believes that squad selections for State of Origin should only include players who are able to be selected for the Kangaroos.

Despite being a major supporter for Polynesian development in rugby league, Meninga told The Daily Telegraph that he thinks players must have the prerequisite of being in the selection pool for Australia before being in contention for a call up to either the Maroons or Blues.

Meninga questioned the eligibility of New South Wales stars Jarome Luai and Junior Paulo, stating the pair could easily be replaced with reinforcements and wouldn't harm the Blues too drastically.

“My preference is that if you make yourself available for NSW and Queensland that first and foremost you are available for the Kangaroos,” Meninga said.

“You might describe that as selfish but I want to keep the fabric of Origin clean.

PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 13: Jarome Luai of the Panthers is tackled during the round 18 NRL match between the Panthers and the Sharks at Panthers Stadium on July 13, 2018 in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

“I’m a huge fan of the international game and I don’t begrudge players wanting to play for their ancestors and their country.

“You could put a Jack Wighton or Luke Keary at five-eighth [in place of Luai].

“You look at Junior Paulo … do you lose anything by putting RCG (Reagan Campbell-Gillard) there. There’s plenty of props around.

“Would that weaken the Blues or Origin? I don’t think so.”

Luai is of Samoan descent and has previously flagged his desires to continue to represent the Polynesian island country in the future and add to his five international caps.

The selection criteria surrounding Origin players has been of heavy debate in 2021, with Luai's Penrith teammate Viliame Kikau previously stating his desires to represent the Maroons.

The Fijian forward told Fox Sports earlier this year that he would be ready for the Origin stage should representation requirements change in his favour.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 20: Viliame Kikau of the Panthers makes a break during the round two NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Penrith Panthers at Bankwest Stadium, on March 20, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

“That (Origin) has always been around the radar, so if the rules change and I get my opportunity it would be good,” Kikau said.

“I want to play my best footy here with Penrith, but if the rule changes and the opportunity comes by then I’m willing to have a crack.

“A lot of people have asked me about that, but with the rules I can’t play.

“I also haven’t talked to an islander who has played Origin just to ask exactly how they felt.”

Tongan international Jason Taumalolo sparked debate when he pleaded his case for an Origin call-up.

At the time, Luai said that state representation should remain traditional and avoid a prerequisite shake-up.

WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 28: Jason Taumalolo of the Cowboys looks dejected after a Dragons try during the round 15 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the North Queensland Cowboys at WIN Stadium on June 28, 2019 in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

“Looking at the rules, if you have played for New Zealand you can’t play Origin and it would be pretty weird if they switched that up,” Luai said.

“I think it would wreck a lot of things that they have built on in Origin.

“I’m not sure where they are going to go with it, but I know a lot of people would like to see Taumalolo in a Maroons jersey.”

Luai will line up in the No.6 jumper for New South Wales in the series opener in Townsville in what will be his Origin debut.

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Yeah good. Only make Origin available for Australian borns, but make the Maroons available to everyone.

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