New South Wales are now coached by their once iconic player Brad Fittler and he’s made comments about how and why the international rules could change around eligibility.
The argument that Fittler makes is one that’s simple and well-publicised – don’t pit international rugby league against State of Origin rugby league – let the two complement each other.
At present the rules state that if an eligible player, someone born or lived in either NSW or Queensland prior to the age of 13, opts to represent another tier one nation, New Zealand or England, then they cannot play Origin.
Players who choose to represent a tier two nation, the likes of Tonga, Samoa and Fiji, are still allowed to play Origin games.
Due to Victor Radley’s decision to represent his father’s country on an international stage and play for England, he is now no longer available for New South Wales selection – this is in spite of the fact that Radley was born and raised in New South Wales.
“If you were born in either NSW or Queensland and at a certain age be eligible – at this stage it’s 13 – then you should be able to play for NSW or Queensland… that’s it,” Fittler said, making the comments on the official New South Wales website.
Fittler called for a change in the rules purely regarding internationals, reasoning that those eligible should always remain eligible regardless of which national team they choose to represent.
“I wonder why these players don’t have the chance or the opportunity to play for NSW because of the heritage of their father, and they get the ability to play international football at some stage of their career.
“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 to Fox Sports News, Fittler added: “There’s not many English players other than Victor Radley, who went and played for England, who would actually be eligible to play State of Origin.
“It’d be a shame if he went through his whole career and didn’t play for New South Wales.”
Radley, aged 24, missed the 2021 Origin series due to suspension and whilst he was selected for 2022, he didn’t play in the match.
He’s since opted to play for England, representing his father’s country four times in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, thus is ineligible for next year’s Origin as rules currently stand.