By STEVE MASCORD
BANNING Junior Kiwis from playing Origin is nowhere near enough of a measure to protect international football from NSW and Queensland recruitment raids.
All it will do in the medium to long term is discourage kids from playing for the Junior Kiwis – and we’ll get more results like last Saturday’s 48-16 win by the Junior Kangaroos.
Rugby League International Federation chairman Scott Carter is right: either the Blues and Maroons stop choosing foreigners or they should allow Origin players to represent other countries.
This is why I don’t like the Independent Commission being so closely linked to Australia, with John Grant reading out the Test team. What is good for rugby league is often not what’s good for Australia – and I’d rather the commission do what’s good for rugby league.
It would be great for the game if the umbilical cord connecting Origin to the Australian team was cut. If you qualify for Origin, you are selected and your country of election is a completely different issue. What a wonderful gesture to rugby league that would be.
And another great gesture would be to pay all NRL players who represent in a full Test the same money – whether it’s for Fiji, Australia or the United States. The impact of this on players’ enthusiasm for the international game would be profound. As of a couple of months ago, we can afford it.
But neither of those things will happen because they are not in the interests of Australia. It’s a real shame.
ONE thing we should have mentioned last week: If Canterbury’s James Graham did walk off the field on grand final night to tell his coach and chief executive he definitely did not bite Billy Slater, why was it kept secret for four days?
What on earth would be the motivation for not getting it “out there” that the player vehemently denied committing the offence?
When St George Illawarra’s Matt Prior took Johnathan Thurston’s head off in May, the Dragons could not put him in front of cameras and microphones quickly enough. Their PR, Jo Banning, even chased reporters around Dairy Farmers Stadium to make sure they had the quotes.
Sure, the judiciary members aren’t supposed to be influenced by publicity.
But they would have walked into the Graham hearing without anyone having even suggested to them that the England forward didn’t do it. That can’t have helped.
I’D love to tell you that Bangkok is buzzing with excitement over the Test on Sunday but the fact is I’ve not yet interacted with any rugby league people in my couple of days here.
I am told the Philippines boys arrived yesterday and there’s a big launch for the match on Friday. In case you missed the news, the Thailand-Philippines match is now on Sunday at the Royal Thai Police Stadium, at 7pm Sydney time.
Referees are Gavin and Kasey Badger, understood to be the first husband and wife officiating team in the history of world sport. Their little milestone has even attracted the attention of the British national press.
By STEVE MASCORD