An unlikely ally has emerged for Samoa’s bold campaign to pick Brisbane’s Anthony Milford for next week’s Pacific Test – Kangaroos rookie Josh McGuire.
The firebrand forward hopes to run out for Queensland and Australia with Brisbane teammate Milford by his side as early as next year.
Under eligibility rules Milford won’t be able to cut ties with Samoa until after the 2017 World Cup if he plays in the Pacific Test against Tonga at Parramatta on Saturday week.
However, McGuire believes Milford should be allowed to don Samoan colours without copping a representative backlash, saying it will only benefit the international game.
“The Pacific Tests are televised. A lot of eyes will be watching,” McGuire told AAP.
“And people want to see Milford play.
“If he’s not playing for Australia, let him play for Samoa.
“I just think it will improve the game. And TV ratings would be great.”
Milford played for Samoa at the 2013 World Cup but switched his allegiances the next year in a bid to be eligible for Queensland State of Origin selection.
It led to the awkward situation in which he played for the Queensland under-20s in a curtain-raiser to Samoa’s World Cup qualifier against Fiji in May 2014.
But Samoa coach Matt Parish threatened to pick Milford for their May 7 Pacific Test if overlooked for the Kangaroos’ one-off clash with New Zealand next month.
McGuire got the Kangaroos nod on Tuesday but not Milford, setting the stage for Parish to make a brave call.
“I’ll name the strongest 17 I can, which of course includes Anthony,” Parish told Fox Sports.
McGuire – a former Samoan international – renewed calls for footballers from second tier nations to be able to play for their home country if they miss out on Origin or trans-Tasman selection.
“We are trying to promote rugby league internationally and improve the game,” McGuire said.
“If you are not picked for New Zealand or Australia and eligible for the second-tier countries I don’t see why you shouldn’t play.
“I can’t see how it damages the game.
“And some of these guys are kids when they make their (country allegiance) decision – it’s hard.”
It remains to be seen how many recognisable names feature in Samoa’s squad after Parish admitted he was reluctant to “pick second graders” for the Pacific Test.
The tyranny of distance may deny England-based players Frank Pritchard, Carlos Tuimavave and Ben Roberts from playing the one-off Test.