QLD v NSW - State of Origin Game 3
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 13: Jacob Saifiti of the Blues celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during game three of the State of Origin Series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on July 13, 2022, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Tonga and Samoa might be remaining as Tier 2 teams at the international level, but that doesn't mean the NRL aren't about to tinker with eligibility rules for State of Origin.

A review, to be led by former Tigers star Wayne Pearce, is set to commence in the coming days and weeks over the state of the rules.

Under current policy, players who declare for Tonga, Samoa, or other Tier 2 nations like Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands among others can still declare to play State of Origin, provided they meet the eligibility rules that they were either born in New South Wales or Queensland, or played their first football in the state by the age of 13.

However, it's now being reported by News Corp that players from England or New Zealand who meet the same criteria could be allowed to play State of Origin.

Players like Jason Taumalolo, who moved to Townsville at the age of 13, could be allowed to play Origin in the future if the rule change goes through, and Wayne Pearce told the publication that Origin should be more than an Australian selection trial now.

“This is only my personal view and it's that the Origin concept has evolved,” Pearce said.

“There are now so many international players in the game that Origin should no longer be seen as purely a pathway to representation for Australia - on the proviso that players fulfil the criteria of eligibility for State of Origin.

“State of Origin should be a pathway to international football, not just playing for Australia, but they must fulfil the criteria as it's already set out.”

It's understood the review has not yet commenced thanks to drawn out negotiations over the collective bargaining agreement, with clubs still unclear as to their final salary cap figure for the 2023 season.

Despite that, the review will kick-off over the off-season with a decision expected by the start of the 2023 campaign, and, as a result, a possible change to the rules.

New South Wales Blues coach Brad Fittler has spoken out on the issue in recent times as well, suggesting that a player like Sebastian Kris who has now declared for New Zealand not being able to play isn't acceptable given the Canberra centre once played in a Fittler-coached junior Blues side. Reimis Smith, who plays for the Melbourne Storm, is in the same boat.

"Sebastian Kris has played for New Zealand, he has played for NSW since he was 15," Fittler said.

"Reimis Smith has played for New Zealand, he has grown up in NSW since he was a baby.

"I wonder why these players don't have the chance to play for NSW because of the heritage of their father, while also getting the ability to play international football."

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'Landys said it wouldn't be an easy process changing the rules.

“The Origin review will happen again and we will seek everyone's views and come to a landing," V'Landys said.

“But I must stress that a lot of people didn't want changes to the rules last time so it won't be an easy process.”

The 2023 State of Origin series will be played in Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney.


  1. “No longer a pathway to represent Australia”.

    Anyone wishing to open up SOO eligibility ought to address that question.

    If SOO is to be two teams of international superstars, not two teams of players eligible to play for Australia, then there will be no intermediate level between club football and international football for those guys who are good enough to play for Australia, but not good enough to make one of the “superstars” teams.

    Are players and supporters of Australia comfortable with that?

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