Good on you Benji Marshall.
It took a Kiwi to remind Australians that inter-state football should be a trial for Test selection.
And you know what? If State of Origin dies because the teams are not ‘the best of the best’, so be it.
That will mean that international football will regain the ascendancy.
Let me explain, in case you think I am losing my mind.
Marshall was asked on the FoxSports NRL 360 show about Origin football, given the drama over the eligibility for Queensland of Cronulla’s Ronaldo Mulitalo.
Benji made it clear he only ever had one ambition, and that was to play for New Zealand, even though he represented Australian Schoolboys from Keebra Park High on the Gold Coast. State of Origin was never a temptation, because he viewed it as a selection trial for the Kangaroos – he saw it as a series fought out between AUSTRALIANS.
That is the way it should be, and I applaud the NRL for denying Mulitalo the chance to play for Queensland. My understanding is that South Auckland raised Mulitalo wrote on a player profile that he was a proud Kiwi. I can’t cop people who say they are proud Queenslanders, but then they want to play for Samoa, Tonga, or whoever, instead of Australia.
We are one country, although you wouldn’t know it, given some of the goings-on during this Covid drama.
State of Origin has long been promoted as the best of the best, and to maintain the credibility of that slogan, some critics are pushing for the widening of eligibility rules for Origin, given 55 percent of the NRL work force is Polynesian.
I say, just drop the ‘best of the best’ slogan. Just make it State against State, Mate against Mate. Who gives a rat’s if Victorians, South Australians and West Australians might not be as tempted to attend an Origin game, if it is not ‘the best of the best’.
True Queensland and New South Wales rugby league fans just want Origin to be authentic.
Maybe we should just have one game instead of three, and then pick an Australian side, and then have a mid-season couple of weeks devoted to international football, involving Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and Papua New Guinea.
And at the end of the year, every couple of years, the Kangaroos head to Britain and France. And I mean, the Kangaroos, not players chosen from the Pacific nations.
International football should be the pinnacle of the game in this country, just as it was when the formidable British, French and Kiwi teams toured here, and kept rugby league number one in New South Wales and Queensland, because they played everywhere from Townsville to Tamworth, from Wagga Wagga to Wondai, and places in between.
Englishman, James Graham, who appeared on NRL360 with Marshall, was equally strong in his views about setting rules and sticking to them. He has spent more time in Australia than many Polynesians, but he only ever wanted to represent England and Great Britain. Journalist, Paul Kent, another member of the panel, was correct in saying that widening eligibility rules would make Origin an All Stars event. There is a place for All Stars games, but not when it comes to wearing the Sky Blue of New South Wales or the Maroon of Queensland.