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Fiji Time: 11:01 AM on Friday 25 July

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Radradra not eligible for State of Origin

The Sunday Telegraph
Monday, April 14, 2014

RUGBY league's State of Origin eligibility rules have been shown up yet again to be a complete farce.

This time the victim is the game's most dynamic new personality player, Parramatta's barnstorming winger Semi Radradra.

The NRL has ruled that the Fijian flyer can play for Australia — but, inexplicably, not State of Origin.

This is despite the fact four high profile Fijians have already played Origin football — the great Petero Civoniceva, Jarryd Hayne, Lote Tuqiri and Akuila Uate.

Under new guidelines for rep football, Radradra can nominate to play for Australia once he has lived in the country for three years.

Yet because he wasn't born in NSW or QLD and didn't live in either state before the age of 13, he can't play State of Origin.

The NRL's general manager of game development, Andrew Hill, insists there is no loophole that would allow the cult hero they call 'Semi Trailor' to play for NSW.

"Tightening up the eligibility rules was a move towards ensuring the state versus state, mate versus mate concept was protected," Hill said.

"The commission was very keen to ensure the concept of the State of Origin remained as a game between NSW and Queensland."

Yet this is the game that continually allows Macksville born, bred and raised Greg Inglis to play for QLD and any number of Kiwis and Pacific Islanders to play for the Blues or Maroons.

And the same game that sits back and allows superstars Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Burgess to walk out on the code because they are not allowed to play in the game's showpiece event of the year.

Radradra is the NRL's leading try-scorer in 2014, proving virtually unstoppable on Parramatta's left-side wing, turning the trampling of opponents into an art form.

He averages nearly 120 metres a game, has made 26 tackle busts in five games and brings back memories of legendry Eels winger Eric Grothe.

Radradra comes from the tiny Fijian village of Somosomo and has been in Australia for less than two years. He was first spotted by the Eels' recruitment team in a televised rugby union sevens tournament in Dubai.

At the moment he has nominated Fiji as his country of choice but can change at any time because his country is considered a second-tier rugby league nation.

There is no question he is already explosive enough to handle the extra pace and intensity or Origin football, although his positional play understandably still needs some work.


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