Elliott Whitehead calls for rule change around eligibility

Conversations in the rugby league community have surrounded the issue of State of Origin eligibility for players choosing to represent nations other than Australia.

New South Wales boss Brad Fittler has spoken out about the situation that England World Cup debutant Victor Radley finds himself in.

Radley was born in New South Wales but opted to represent England on the international stage – because of this he is now no longer eligible for Origin, despite having been a non-playing member of the 2022 squad.

The rules state that eligible players representing other tier one nations, currently New Zealand and England, can’t play Origin.

Tier two nations, such as Tonga, Fiji and Samoa are currently allowed to represent their state during Origin series, but with Samoa becoming the first pacific island to make the World Cup final, there are concerns this could change.

As such players like Jarome Luai, Junior Paulo and Josh Papalii wouldn’t be able to play Origin, despite in most instances those players having roots tying them to their state.

Another Englishman, Elliott Whitehead, who is playing in the NRL has chimed in on the debate – the Canberra Raiders captain making his views clear to his local newspaper the Canberra Times.

He said: “If they want to represent their heritage then I don’t see why they can’t when it comes to international games and still play Origin when it comes to that level as well.

“A lot of those boys have grown up here in Australia and played their junior league in NSW or Queensland. They should be able to do both.”

New South Wales head coach Brad Fittler has already spoken specifically on Radley, calling for the rules to change.

“At the end of the day State of Origin should be for people who were born or lived in the states of NSW or Queensland before the age of 13.”

Speaking on Radley he said: “It’d be a shame if he went through his whole career and didn’t play for New South Wales.”

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