3 hours ago
Off the Wall
Given what happened in the second state of origin match two weeks ago, it defies comprehension that the hierarchy of the New South Wales Rugby League continues to provide encouragement to the Maroons.
As recently as yesterday, the NSWRL CEO, Geoff Carr, was calling for Israel Folau to be excluded for origin three next week.
Folua will be in the team chosen by the maroons today - and there is nothing Carr can do about it, so why bother?
All he is doing in giving Mal Meninga and his team another incentive to achieve a clean sweep of the series next week. When an NSW official attacks a maroons player, his teammates get even more fired up.
It happened in origin two, and it will happen again in origin three.
What Geoff Carr should be doing is working with the NRL to put in place rules that can apply from 2011 onwards. The horse has already bolted for 2010, and he has to accept some responsibility for that.
The Karmichael Hunt debacle last year should surely have encouraged officials to put in place clear rules to deal with code swapping players and representative matches.
I believe the rules need to be tough, and act as a real disincentive to swap codes.
Prior to the start of the representative season players should be required to sign an agreement they will either play rugby league in the following season, or retire.
If any player signs with a rival code during the season they should be ineligible for representative selection, and, quite frankly, consideration needs to be given to terminating their contracts immediately. There may be legal complications with that - but at the very least it should be investigated.
Whatever happens the rules must be clear cut, so that any player contemplating a code switch knows the consequences.
It is true that the AFL will use Folau's appearance in origin three next week to push its cause in Western Sydney - but if the games administrators had any foresight they would have put a rule in place before the origins series, not try to do so half way through it.
If I was a maroons selector I would have been reluctant to select Folau - but the rules don't prevent him from being selected fullstop.
One hopes that Geoff Carr will drop off - and allow the new independent commission comprehensively address the issue before the 2011 season.
And the rules need to be tough and uncompromising...but they simply cannot be retrospective.
That is why raising the issue of Folau's eligibility for origin three is really hard to comprehend.