Sunday, March 30, 2008

I Have Just As Much Chance As Sonny Bill

No Origin for SBW?

LAST week on the NRL Footy Show Bulldog Sonny Bill Williams commented on his desire to play State of Origin footy for New South Wales despite the fact that he technically would not qualify since his birthplace is New Zealand.

I can understand wanting to play State of Origin footy. Who wouldn't? Heck, even I would love to pull on a Maroons jersey and run out on to Lang Park, or Suncorp Stadium as it is now known.

But, unlike Sonny Bill, I am a Queenslander. I have played professional sport too. If he gets a run, why can't I?

I mean, if all you have to do is meet a few of the selection criteria, we both would qualify, wouldn't we?

OK, we all know how ridiculous it would be to see me out there with the best footballers Queenslander has to offer. I also think it would be ridiculous to bend the rules, albeit it in a slightly different way, for Sonny Bill.

So how does Sonny Bill argue his qualification for selection in a NSW State of Origin side?
Well, he was a NSW representative at the under-15 and 17 junior levels. Yep, I think it is justifiable that he was allowed to play representative footy for NSW in his junior days.

Junior sport should have looser boundaries (which could open the door for an entirely different article). This isn't juniors any more.

He is a professional athlete playing in an elite competition now and the rules are, and should be, more concrete. The primary problem I have with his inclusion in a NSW side is that he has already been given the opportunity to play for his true country of origin, New Zealand, and jumped at the chance.

I am sure he is very proud each and every time he pulls on the Kiwi jersey. Thousands of people would trade places with him in a minute.

If we begin to allow sportsmen and women to pick and choose who they would like to represent, I can't help but feel like a little of the passion and pride that comes with such an honour would become somewhat diluted.

Take the Olympic swimming trials taking place right now as an example. It just so happens that the talent pool of swimmers in Australia is currently very deep (no pun intended). There will be a plethora of talented Australian swimmers missing out on the trip to Beijing. Many of them could walk on to the pool deck in any other country in the world and breeze their way into a qualifying position and live out an Olympic dream.

Does it mean as much just to make any team when, let's face it, the Australian Olympic swimming team headed to Beijing is going to be something special?

I doubt it.

I appreciate Sonny Bill wanting to be part of arguably the best rugby league spectacle in the world. However, when he chose to represent New Zealand as his country of Origin, any chance of playing Origin in Australia went out the window.

I keep telling my kids: "You can't have it both ways!" Maybe I need to invite Sonny Bill to sit in on one of my lectures.

Fortunately for the people of Queensland, both Sonny Bill and I will be watching the Origin series from the same position, a comfortable lounge chair.

My article can be found in every Saturday's edition of the Townsville Bulletin.

TJ Ford making the Knicks look silly


Kelthoctor said...

Former Steeler/Dragon Craig Smith donned a Maroon jersey in 1997

In addition to being a Kiwi rep..

I guess Superleague could be used as the excuse

Kelthoctor said...

But, yeah..

Fully agree with your sentiments

John Rillie said...


Yes there are a few exceptions to the rule. Brad Thorn played international for both Australia and New Zealand in both rugby league and union.

have have been informed that rugby leagur players are allowed on switch of country when it is a World Cup year.

Look for a lot of players to see if they make Australia or New Zealand before they strengthen some of the Pacific Island teams.

DJ Rod said...

I think if you play for NZ first then you can't play origin... if you play origin and THEN play for NZ it is ok...

I reckon allow it just so we can all watch JR running the ball back and getting smashed by Sonny Bill!