Promising South Sydney half Luke Keary, currently sidelined with a pectoral injury, has been told he can not play for Queensland. Copyright: Colin Whelan/NRL Photos. Credit: Colin Whelan/NRL Photos. Copyright: Colin Whelan/NRL Photos.
The State of Origin tug-of-war over Queensland-raised South Sydney playmaker Luke Keary has been won by NSW after NRL CEO Dave Smith refused to wade into the debate.
Smith had been believed to be assessing Keary's Origin application despite eligibility rules revamped in 2012 classing him as a Blues player.
Under the new criteria, Keary - who rose up the school and junior league ranks in Sydney - ticks the majority of the criteria boxes for NSW.
However, rising NRL star Keary has openly declared his allegiance to the Maroons.
Rugby League Players' Association CEO David Garnsey had upped the ante by claiming he believed Keary had a "compelling case" to be considered a Maroon.
But Smith said "rules were rules", guaranteeing Keary would wear a sky blue jersey if he earned what seemed inevitable Origin honours.
"I haven't personally heard from Luke. (But) the rules around eligibility were re-established before my time back in 2012," Smith said.
"Some very learned people sat down at a table and established those rules.
"We've applied those rules. Clearly that's going to lead to disappointment for some people but the rules are the rules and that's what has been applied."
Keary - born and raised at Ipswich, west of Brisbane, until the age of 10 - had argued that his preference should be taken into account.
He had even booked a meeting with NRL head of football Todd Greenberg in January in a bid to reverse the ARL Commission's eligibility ruling.
But unlike the previous Origin guidelines, players no longer have the power to declare their "state of election".
The tipping point for the Origin eligibility rule change came when New Zealand-born Junior Kiwi rep James Tamou switched his allegiances to Australia just 10 days out from the 2012 Anzac Test and made his Origin debut for NSW later that year.
However, Blues fans had been irked for years by Queensland's seemingly flexible criteria which allowed the likes of PNG captain Adrian Lam to run out for the Maroons in the 1990s.
Perhaps the biggest sore point for Blues supporters was superstar centre Greg Inglis - born and raised in Bowraville, on the NSW mid-north coast - shining for a Queensland side that has won eight straight Origin series.