Penrith powerhouse Viliame Kikau is the latest Pacific Islander to put his hand up to play Origin should the eligibility rules change.
Debate around the criteria for Origin has intensified after North Queensland’s Tongan lock Jason Taumalolo expressed interest in representing the Maroons in this year’s series.
Taumalolo is currently ineligible to play Origin because he has played for top-tier nation New Zealand, even though he lived in Queensland before his 13th birthday.
However, with 50 per cent of the NRL now filled with Polynesian players, the argument has been made for the Origin arena to include the game’s best players.
It comes as ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys is entertaining an overhaul of the Origin eligibility rules to cater for players like Taumalolo.
Kikau, who has played 11 Tests for Fiji, would be eligible for Queensland after playing his first junior league in Australia in Townsville before playing under 20s with the Cowboys.
“That (Origin) has always been around the radar, so if the rules change and I get my opportunity it would be good,” Kikau said.
“I want to play my best footy here with Penrith, but if the rule changes and the opportunity comes by then I’m willing to have a crack.
“A lot of people have asked me about that, but with the rules I can’t play.
“I also haven’t talked to an islander who has played Origin just to ask exactly how they felt.”
Kikau can also understand why people don’t want the Origin rules changed to allow for Pacific Islanders.
“Looking from the other perspective, you wouldn’t want to change what Origin is all about,” he said.
“It is all about the guys born in NSW and Queensland.
“Obviously, it means a lot to them like it does for us playing for our islander countries.”
Panthers five-eighth Jarome Luai made the NSW Origin squad last season despite having played five Tests for Samoa.
Luai, who didn’t play in the series, is eligible for the Blues because Samoa isn’t a top-tier nation like New Zealand.
The Penrith playmaker wouldn’t like to see the Origin eligibility rules changed to allow Pacific Islanders to play.
“Looking at the rules, if you have played for New Zealand you can’t play Origin and it would be pretty weird if they switched that up,” Luai said.
“I think it would wreck a lot of things that they have built on in Origin.
“I’m not sure where they are going to go with it, but I know a lot of people would like to see Taumalolo in a Maroons jersey.”
After receiving an insight into Origin while in Blues camp last year, Luai is desperate to play in the game’s biggest arena.
“I think now that I’ve been in that camp, the Blues are definitely on my radar,” he said.
“It is one of the biggest accolades in the competition.
“Hopefully I can keep improving and one day tick that box of playing Origin.”
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