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Mulitalo denied Origin exemption, Maroons dream over

Maroons hopeful Ronaldo Mulitalo on Friday announced that his QRL request for an exemption that would allow him to play Origin had been denied.

Mulitalo took to Twitter to deliver the news.

"Hey team. Thought I’d let everyone know before the media does. I’ve officially been denied an exemption to represent Queensland going forward. This isn’t the way I pictured my time ending in the maroon jersey," he said.

"Learnt many lessons in this journey but most importantly became a better man wearing this jersey. Here’s to new opportunities #qlder"

The NRL formally announced the news shortly after Mulitalo's post.

In a statement, the reasons behind the decision were explained.

"The NRL determined that, other than being wrongly allowed to represent Queensland at age group level,  there was little to differentiate Mulitalo’s case from any other player who has narrowly missed Origin eligibility criteria," the statement said.

"Furthermore, the reason for Mulitalo representing Queensland at junior level was based on incorrect declarations."

The statement also said "The NRL will now develop, with the States, stronger quality assurance procedures in the declarations made by players regarding their eligibility."

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said the game had to be fair to all players.

"The Origin rules are clear – if you are born outside of Queensland or NSW you must reside in one of the states before your 13th birthday. After further investigation Ronaldo does not meet that criteria," he said.

The Queensland squad arrives at Suncorp Stadium.
The Queensland squad arrives at Suncorp Stadium. ©Jason O'Brien/NRL Photos

"While I acknowledge Ronaldo was wrongly allowed to represent Queensland at age group level, it doesn’t change the fact he was ineligible to play.

"In considering the exemption we have not found good reason that would differentiate Ronaldo from any other player who narrowly misses Origin eligibility.

"It would not be fair to allow Ronaldo to play but deny eligibility to other players who would like to play Origin but narrowly miss the criteria."

New Zealand-born Mulitalo was the hard-luck story before game two of the Ampol State of Origin series after an eligibility drama forced Queensland to withdraw the devastated Cronulla winger just hours before what would have been his debut.

Mulitalo - who has played for the Queensland under 18s and 20s - was given the Origin II nod after Reece Walsh went down with a hamstring injury on match eve.

However, the NSWRL asked the NRL to investigate the 21-year-old former Australian Schoolboys star's eligibility after a 2019 QRL website article surfaced in which Mulitalo claimed he arrived in the country from New Zealand a month shy of turning 14.

Under current rules, players can't play for Queensland or NSW unless they have lived in the respective state prior to their 13th birthday.

The Maroons team will be named on Monday - if Kalyn Ponga makes a successful return from injury for Newcastle this Saturday, he is likely to play at fullback with Walsh set to be absent due to his hamstring problem.

Warriors assistant coach Justin Morgan on Thursday said the club was awaiting scans for confirmation but Walsh has a low-grade strain and they're hopeful it will only be a one- or two-week injury.

Munster cruelled by not icing opportunities

Queensland coach Paul Green would then switch Valentine Holmes back to a wing, leaving game-two incumbents Kyle Feldt and 11th-hour inclusion Xavier Coates for the other berth on the flank.

Queensland will look to avoid a whitewash for the first time in 21 years in the Ampol State of Origin series finale at Sydney's Stadium Australia on July 14.

The NRL is hoping to play the final game at the Olympic venue but Sydney's COVID-19 lockdown until July 9 has forced officials to consider contingency plans such as Newcastle's McDonald Jones Stadium.