Saturday, 10 September 2016

A Plan To Stop ARL's Pillaging Of Pacific Talent (2016)

On Tuesday new Australian Test coach Mal Meninga named his side to take on New Zealand in the annual test match. Included in his side was Fiji-born Semi Radradra, New Zealand-born Josh Papalii and James Tamou, and the 2014-15 Samoan Test player, Josh McGuire.

I’m not begrudging these players or their form; they are all great players in awesome touch and are clearly among the best in the world in their respective position.

But is Australia really that low on world-class players that they need to rape the vastly smaller playing stocks of the surrounding Pacific nations? The answer is obviously a resounding no.

Corey Oates has been in amazing form and is just as deserving of a Test call-up as Radradra. Trent Merrin, Nate Myles, David Klemmer, Luke Lewis, Josh Jackson, Greg Bird and Beau Scott have all played Test football in the last 18 months and most of them have been in good form as well.

Any of these players could have been included and the Australian side would be, at worst, minutely compromised in ability.

It has been argued that many non-Australian born players choose to represent Australia because of the financial reward.

While this may be true, it’s a sign that Australian players are paid handsomely.

So here’s an idea that has precedence: a ‘Nation of Origin’ tournament involving sides from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga. Play them all on the same week as the below games (perhaps even one on the same day).

Week 1 – same week as ANZAC Test
Fiji v Tonga
Samoa v Papua New Guinea

Week 2 – same week as Origin 1
Tonga v Samoa
Papua New Guinea v Fiji

Week 3 – same week as Origin 2
Fiji v Samoa
Tonga v Papua New Guinea

Week 4 – same week as Origin 3
Top two sides play in a final to determine the champion.

Give the players a good financial incentive to play. Then sit back and watch international rugby league become the pinnacle of the game that it rightfully should be, which will only help to add more big-ticket games to the next broadcasting rights deal – in turn further improving the international game.

**This article appeared on the Commentary Box Sports website**

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