NSW legend Brad Fittler has shot down calls for State of Origin eligibility rules to be bent to accommodate Parramatta sensation Semi Radradra for fear of diluting the game’s showpiece event.
After leaving a trail of destruction in his wake during his side’s 20-6 NRL win over Canterbury on Friday, the flying Fijian reiterated his desire to represent NSW.
Despite being available for Australia, and a chance to make his debut in May’s Test against New Zealand, the Suva-born winger is ineligible to play Origin because he did not live in NSW before his 13th birthday.
The 23-year-old immigrated to Australia in 2012 after being scouted by Parramatta and does not fulfil any of the criteria which would make him available for NSW coach Laurie Daley.
Manly great Bob Fulton, who helped overhaul the Origin eligibility rules four years ago, said the laws needed further tweaking because they didn’t take into account Radradra’s switch from rugby union or the fact he is an Australian resident.
However Fittler knocked the idea on its head, saying the bending of the rules threatened to chip away at the fabric of parochialism that drives Origin.
“You don’t want to tamper with it when it’s worked so well,” Fittler said on Network Nine on Sunday.
Immortal and former Blues captain Andrew Johns said he had not seen a more dominant winger than Radradra since Wendell Sailor was at the height of his powers but did not want to see him play for NSW.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a winger dominate the game, I think the last time I can remember is Wendell when he was at his best in the early 2000s and late 90s,” Johns said.
“He totally dominated from the wing.”
Radradra put in a powerhouse performance against the Bulldogs, scoring two tries, setting up Michael Jennings with a memorable leap, making 215 metres, two linebreaks and eight tackle busts.
“It would be a dream come true if I played (for NSW) but it’s unlucky I can’t play Origin because I’m not eligible because they changed the rules around,” Radradra said.
“Maybe if they changed the rules again then things could change for me.
“I hope so they change the rules around. It would be a dream come true.
“(Origin) is massive (in Fiji), everyone watches Origin. I’d be happy if I played Origin one day.”