The age-old eligibility debate has once again reared its ugly head in the wake of the Spring internationals.
With Wayne Bennett picking two Aussies in his England side and Andrew Fifita defecting to Australia despite also being chosen for Tonga, social media has exploded with fans expressing their anger at players’ ability to swap from country to country.
I take a quote from former Great Britain winger Brian Carney: “International sport has become club sport in a different jersey”. And he’s right. It’s now just as easy for a player to transfer between nations as it for him to transfer between clubs, and it doesn’t look like this is going to change any time soon. Take the Grandparent rule, for example. It gives the potential for a player to be eligible for up to six different countries at once, allowing them to cherry-pick who they play for.
I hate to bring the 15-man code into this but it is widely believed that their international game is far superior to ours, and it’s no wonder given how many mixed nationalities we have on show for just one country in Rugby League. Look at Japan and Argentina in the last RU World Cup, for example. The passion they show when singing their national anthems and playing the sport they love is admirable. They aren’t in it for the money or the fame, they just want to represent their country and wear the jersey with honour because that’s where they’re from and they are proud of it.
Players should choose one country and stick to it. They should commit to one cause and put all their efforts and passion behind it because at the end of the day, that’s what International Rugby League is about. I finish with a message for Mr Bennett himself. Come on Wayne, drop McQueen and Heighington and let the English fellas get their foot in the door. Messrs Amor, Hughes and Whitley have been knocking for a while.