The eligibility war is once again set to rear its ugly head, this time involving Canberra Raiders back-rower Josh Papalii, as he decides whether or not he wants to play for New Zealand, or Queensland.
With Papalii born in New Zealand, the 20-year old will today inform the Raiders of his final decision about his representative future, with Papalii saying that making a decision is tough, and that he has not yet made one.
“I’m 50-50 at the moment,” Papalii said. “I have to make a decision (today), so I will let everyone know.
“I’ve only talked to Mal once or twice and it was only when he came to the club to help out with Furnsy (coach David Furner).
“Not once has he put pressure on me and forced me to make a decision. The rumours have been going around about that but Queensland haven’t put pressure on me.”
If Papalii ultimately decides to make himself eligible for Queensland, the New Zealand Rugby League and their High Performance Chief Tony Kemp, will again lobby to ensure the eligibility rules and process is altered.
What will anger the New Zealanders even more, is the fact that Papalii signed a letter of intent to play for them – however, the only problem with that, is that it is not a legally binding document.
With a monetary award given to all players that play in Origin, Papalii said that the fiscal reward as a result, is an alluring option.
“Anyone who says it’s not about money is lying because it’s a professional game these days,” Papalii said.
“I’m not sure how they (the Kiwis) would feel if I picked Queensland, but they have heaps of youngsters coming through, so we’ll see what happens.
“I was born in New Zealand but I played all my footy in Queensland, so that’s why it’s a tough call.
“I’m pretty confused, it’s pretty hard, my first priority is to play well for the Raiders.”
Mal Meninga commented in March about the possibility of utilising Papalii in the QLD side.
“I’m trying to get my claws into him to be a Queenslander,” Meninga said.
“I would love to (have him), he’s a great talent.”
“He’s a Queensland kid and has been coming through our system here, and I think I would be silly if I didn’t try to get him over our way.”
“But at this stage I’m not quite sure if he wants to play for New Zealand or play for Queensland.”