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With Maroons option gone, Mulitalo now in Kiwis' sights

Michael Maguire won't hesitate to welcome Ronaldo Mulitalo into the Kiwis fold after the Auckland-born flyer was denied an exemption to represent Queensland.

Mulitalo was set to make his State of Origin debut on Sunday until the NSWRL flagged concerns about his eligibility.

The NRL on Friday announced he wouldn't be granted an exemption to play State of Origin in the future after it was determined he hadn't resided in the Sunshine State before his 13th birthday, as per the criteria.

Despite Mulitalo passionately pledging his allegiance to Queensland and Australia, New Zealand coach Maguire would have no qualms in selecting him to play for his country of birth.

The 21-year-old has already played one Test for Samoa and represented the United States at the 2019 World Cup 9s.

"Well and truly. Yes, definitely," Wests Tigers coach Maguire said on Saturday when asked if he'd try to recruit Mulitalo for the Kiwis.

Wests Tigers v Rabbitohs - Round 16

"He's moved into that [representative] space, into Queensland level, so he's seen what the top-end of town is in that quality of player.

"To be able to have someone like him come into the Kiwis down the track would be something that we're looking at, for sure.

"I've spoken to Ronaldo prior but we haven't for a while due to the internationals being sort of put on the shelf at the moment. But fingers crossed everything can sort itself out for the end of the season."

Ronaldo Mulitalo in Maroons colours.
Ronaldo Mulitalo in Maroons colours. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Of more immediate concern for Maguire is ensuring the Tigers put in an improved effort against the Rabbitohs on Sunday.

The Tigers have conceded 106 points in their past two matches - including 66 to the Storm last time out - but Maguire is confident they can mix it with South Sydney at their Leichhardt Oval home.

"The boys have definitely spoken about the [Storm] result and it definitely hurt, but you've also got to move on," Maguire said.

"Because that's what the game allows to you do to do make sure that you can get your performance up. It's a big game tomorrow."

The Rabbitohs pipped the Tigers 18-14 in round six - a frantic golden-point thriller decided by a Tom Burgess try. According to Maguire, that match showed what his team are "very capable of".

"I could pull out passages of a number of games where we've performed very well and we've been very strong," he added.

"We've got to be able to do that for longer periods of time. The momentum in the game is something that everyone can see.

"You've got to be able to capture momentum and when you've got it, you've got to hang onto it. If you don't have it, how do you get it back?

"That's the art of what each team are doing at the moment."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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