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Here’s how we can simplify Origin eligibility criteria

The eligibility criteria for Origin selection are just too complicated. All this talk of Tier 1 and Tier 2 is enough to have me in tears.

We’ve reached the ridiculous point where people are even questioning the legitimacy of obvious Queenslanders like Greg Inglis. Before we know it they’ll be saying Adrian Lam was born in PNG.

We risk turning the game into a joke when we constantly question who is eligible for which team. Ninety-nine per cent of people I talk to just want to see a hard, fast and occasionally violent game in which the Maroons come from behind in the last minute to win.

But when even a train-spotter like myself can’t follow the complexities of the current rules, then it’s time to scrap them. We need a much simpler set of rules, something so straightforward that even league journalists can understand them.

Here’s my proposal. It’s simple and it’s fair.

Let’s split the NRL into seven Queensland clubs and 12 NSW clubs. The seven Queensland clubs would be Dolphins, Broncos, Titans, Cowboys, Raiders, Storm and Warriors.

If you played your first senior football with one of these clubs, then you are obviously a Qlder. The only other way to qualify is to be born in the Sunshine State or to have the surname of a famous Queensland player, such as Beetson, Lewis or Smith.

Onto the 12 NSW clubs. These are Manly, Cronulla, Newcastle, St George Illawarra, Wests, Tigers, Bulldogs, Penrith, Roosters, Bunnies and Eels. Again it’s all about where you were born or where you played your first senior football, and of course no one wants to see a Benny Elias or Tom Raudonikis playing for the Maroons.

It’s a fair system that would allow someone like Nathan Cleary, who had lived most of his life in NZ, to play Origin. If talented players have an Australian passport we must find a way for them to participate.

Some may wonder how the Storm and Warriors can qualify as Queensland clubs.

Well, I think the case for the Storm is pretty obvious. The club was created by Maroons legend John Ribot and owes all its premiership success to its Queensland champions. Even their first premiership captain Glen Lazarus would admit that having played his first senior football in Canberra, he probably should have always been considered a Queenslander.

The case for the Warriors is even clearer. For the last two years the Warriors have literally been in Redcliffe which is, let me check, in Queensland.

And this isn’t just a recent phenomenon, as former NZ Test forward Rob Orchard played for the Dolphins way back in the ’70s. I remember seeing him cycling past my house during their pre-season road runs.

Now let’s be clear that I’m not suggesting New Zealanders be allowed to play Origin. Obviously State of Origin should be reserved for Australian passport holders, unless there was some sort of Covid emergency that meant Jason Taumalolo or Justin Olam had to play for Queensland.

Gee, I reckon they’d both look pretty good in Maroon.

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