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Renouf: Opening Origin eligibility to more players will help fuel rivalry

State of Origin is built on the theatre of the hatred that exists between the two states.

Whether you like it or not, Origin eligibility fuels that hatred. It brings out opinions, it creates talking points and I feel at the moment people are either staunchly against it or they just don’t care enough to let it worry them.

This latest issue regarding Jason Taumalolo wanting to play in the Ampol State of Origin series for Queensland is an interesting discussion.

We’ve had a lot of players play for their country and then play Origin. I’ve played with two of those guys, Adrian Lam and Tonie Carroll.

I played for Queensland with Carroll during Super League in 1997 and again in 1998. I was overseas playing for Wigan when he played for New Zealand in 2000, but it doesn’t worry me that he kept playing for Queensland and Australia a few years later.

Renouf has his say on Taumalolo's Origin eligibility

No one cares anymore about the Tonie Carroll situation. For most people he is a Queensland legend.

Taumalolo chose to play for New Zealand in the early days of his NRL career, but he hasn’t played for the Kiwis since 2017 and now represents Tonga – a team with multiple Origin players like Will Hopoate, Andrew Fifita, Joe Ofahengaue, Michael Jennings and Daniel Tupou.

If he wants to play Origin, I don’t see a problem with it to be honest, I think it would be great.

And that’s not just because he is a Queenslander either. He qualifies because he moved to Queensland when he was young enough to fulfil the proposed new criteria.

The return of the set-piece scrum play

It wasn’t long ago people were talking about Queensland’s lack of forward depth.

But after last year’s series in which guys like Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Jai Arrow stood tall alongside Josh Papali’i and then this year the Maroons can add David Fifita, that's an exciting young brigade of Queenslanders.

Don't get me wrong, Taumalolo would make the Maroons stronger, but they don’t necessarily need him as we thought they might a year or two ago.

When we look back on the history of Origin in years to come, I don’t see why it would be such a big debate if we were to allow players who can also represent another country to line up for NSW and Queensland if they met the basic eligibility requirements.

People would still talk more about the interstate fights – like Greg Inglis playing for Queensland or Luke Keary playing for NSW – as bigger moments that added to the theatre and hatred of Origin football.

Bennett, Walters shoot down changes to Origin eligibility

Something the game needs to consider in this debate is whether this decision will weaken international football – particularly for New Zealand.

The Pacific Island nations are now good enough to compete with Australia, the Kiwis and England.

Will young Pacific Islander kids reject New Zealand in favour of the smaller nations because they can also play State of Origin but if they choose the Kiwis they are banned?

Queensland games moved to Sydney, AAMI Park match remains

There are plenty of talking points both for and against this eligibility situation and it will be debated for many years to come.

The powers at be will have to decide whether to keep it as is or change. It’s a tough decision but I’ve got an inkling they might just leave it as is.


The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.

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