Tevita Pangai jnr has ended speculation about his representative intentions by pledging his allegiance to NSW before the upcoming State of Origin series.
In a boost for the Blues, Pangai jnr is expected to put pressure on incumbent back-rowers Angus Crichton, Nathan Brown, Cameron Murray, Jake Trbojevic, Tyson Frizell, Isaah Yeo and Dale Finucane as coach Brad Fittler’s side attempts to win back the shield.
Tevita Pangai jnr has made himself available for Origin selection.Credit:Getty
Brisbane considered sacking Pangai jnr after he breached COVID-19 protocols on several occasions, including when he attended a barber shop that was investigated for criminal links. However, he has been a standout in a struggling Broncos team and submitted one of the performances of his career last week against Penrith.
Pangai jnr’s decision will spark further debate about international eligibility rules, particularly after Tongan international Jason Taumalolo indicated he would like to play Origin. Presently, he is unable to do so given he previously represented tier-one nation New Zealand.
“It’s an interesting discussion that has been going on in some quarters of the media and we are certainly an interested bystander,” NZRL chief Greg Peters said.
“Our view is that if you can play for Samoa and Tonga and still play Origin, perhaps that should be extended to New Zealand.
“It’s a good discussion that we can continue, albeit it’s ultimately up to the NRL with the rules around Origin for Queensland and NSW as well.
“They will make that determination, but we’re certainly interested in continuing that conversation.”
Despite the establishment of a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand, plans for a Tonga-New Zealand Test in June have been scrapped. Instead, the Kiwis are hoping to arrange at least one Test at the end of the year as a warm-up to the World Cup.
Meanwhile, the Origin series will return to Perth Stadium next year after an agreement between the NRL and the Western Australia government.
The move is in line with the NRL’s policy of one neutral venue and one home venue each for the Blues and Maroons in the series. The showpiece event will be held in Melbourne this year, Perth in 2022 and Adelaide in 2023. A sellout crowd of 59,721 filled Perth Stadium in 2019.
“When we first took Origin to Perth in 2019, the event was so popular it broke the ground record at the time,” ARL commissioner Peter Beattie said. “We’re looking forward to building on that success.
“Perth deserves to host Origin again and we are privileged to bring the contest back.”
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