The NRL has intervened on Queensland’s ambitious plan to poach Jason Taumalolo and unleash the Cowboys sensation on NSW in this years State of Origin series.
The Courier-Mail revealed the Queensland Rugby League approached NRL bosses over summer to inquire about the prospect of Taumalolo quitting Tonga (a second tier nation) to play for the Maroons this season.
After renouncing his ties to New Zealand two years ago, the former Dally M winner could have been an origin option, with his destructive ball-running skills being some of the best in the competition.
The 25-year old has previously donned the green-and-gold jumper, playing for the Australian Schoolboys as a 16-year old before being picked for the Junior Kiwis.
But Queensland’s bid to clear Taumalolo for Maroons selection was vetoed by the NRL, which ruled the Cowboys forward ineligible for Origin because he played 10 tests for New Zealand, a tier-one rival to Australia.
Former Queensland enforcer Tonie Carroll played for both Australia and New Zealand between 2000-2005, but NRL bosses are determined to clean up the code’s representative eligibility mess – shutting the Origin door on Taumalolo.
An NRL spokesman confirmed Taumalolo will never be able to play for the Maroons, despite living in Queensland for 12 of his 25 years.
“Under current RLIF (Rugby League International Federation) rules around eligibility, players cannot represent two Tier One nations,” the NRL spokesman told The Courier Mail.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters said Taumalolo would have been a revelation in Maroon but is confident in his next wave of young forwards.
“We had some interest but Jason isn’t available,” Walters said.
“You want the best player playing Origin, but they need to be eligible and available.
“He would have looked good in Maroon, certainly, but we have plenty of good forwards to choose from.”
For now, Taumalolo is focused on getting the Cowboys back into premiership contention following the retirement of Maroons maestro Jonathan Thurston.
“we can definitely still get the job done with the amount of talented young players we’ve got at the club,” he said.
“Everyone brings something different to the table, that’s what I love most for our club in the post-JT era.”