There was a big Twitter debate among Roosters fans earlier this year about whether Anthony Minichiello would be available to play for both the Blues and to captain the Italian team in this year’s Rugby League World Cup.
The old argument was that Adrian Lam could both play for the Queensland team while representing Papua New Guinea, but others argued that the rules were set in stone — if you play for Italy, you can’t play for the Blues.
Well, that argument
has been cleared up in an excellent article in the Australian today:
Sydney Roosters No 1 Anthony Minichiello has played 11 games for NSW – his last appearance was in 2011 – but has since pledged his allegiance to Italy.
That makes him ineligible to play for NSW unless he switches his allegiance back to Australia. If Minichiello opts to do that, it would render him unable to play for Italy at the World Cup, hence the quandary that could confront both NSW coach Laurie Daley and Minichiello in coming days.
While Minichiello’s representative status is not an issue yet, it could become one should Hayne fail to recover from a hamstring injury and something happen to Dugan.
“Under the current RLIF eligibility rules, a player is entitled to change his country of election once every two years or after the World Cup, whichever is the earlier,” NRL game development and league integration general manager Andrew Hill said.
“In order to participate in the State of Origin, a player must be eligible and select Australia as his country of election. The commission was very keen to ensure the concept of the State of Origin remained as a game between NSW and Queensland.
“Tightening up the eligibility rules was a move towards ensuring the state versus state, mate versus mate concept was protected.”
So there you have it. Unless Mini declares himself available for Australia, there is no chance he can represent NSW in light of Jarryd Hayne’s expected unavailability and the fragility of Josh Dugan.
Mini has been in good form recently, but Dugan is expected to get the nod if he’s available. But the debate has seemingly forgotten the great form of Cronulla’s Michael Gordon, who should really be a bit up the pecking order in terms of NSW-eligible fullbacks. He’s safe as a bank, runs the ball back hard and does have a NSW cap — albeit from the wing in 2010 when he kicked three goals.
It’s a moot point if either Hayne or Dugan are available as they are the preferred choices for the fullback spot. Hayne was superb in the first game this year, while Dugan also won his solitary game for the Blues and performed impressively in that game in 2011.
Regardless, if Mini is the last man standing here, it will be an interesting decision he’d have to make. He’s being looking forward to captaining his country of ancestry for a long time now, but loves Origin.