Addin Fonua-Blake has joined Jason Taumalolo and Viliame Kikau in declaring his interest in playing State of Origin should eligibility rules change.
Fonua-Blake played for New Zealand at the under-20s level and played one Test for the Kiwis before making the switch to Tonga.
He told media on Friday that he did not understand that playing for New Zealand in Under-20s would impact his chances of playing Origin, although he does not regret it.
Watch The 2021 NRL Telstra Premiership Live & On-Demand with No Ad-Breaks During Play. New to Kayo? > Get your 14-day free trial now & start streaming instantly >
Wayne against Origin eligibility changes
“I didn’t really understand it back then,” Fonua-Blake said, per the NZ Herald.
“I thought it was just a 20s thing, I didn’t know it carried on to first-grade. I’ve got no regrets and am happy with my decisions, I just didn’t understand the eligibility rules at the time.
“I would have definitely thought about it more if someone had explained it to me.”
As for whether he would be interested in representing Queensland in the Origin arena if rules were relaxed, Fonua-Blake was adamant in his response.
“100 per cent I would,” he said.
“I was born in Queensland but played my first footy [in NSW] so I’m not sure where my eligibility lies. But if that rule gets passed – they’d obviously have to select me first – but if I did make the team, I would love the opportunity to represent the state.”
Storm flex their muscles against Broncos
Origin eligibility rules have been debated this week after Cowboys lock Taumalolo expressed his interest in playing for Queensland.
Taumalolo was born in Auckland and played 10 Tests for New Zealand before going on to pledge his allegiance to Tonga.
The Cowboys star forward has lived in Queensland before his 13th birthday but is currently not allowed to represent the state in Origin as he played for New Zealand.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys entertained changing the rules for players like Taumalolo and Kikau, who has played 11 Tests for Fiji.
Fonua-Blake said an eligibility shake-up would “only help grow the game.”
“Jason’s one of those players who puts bums in seats,” he added.
“You see a lot of people saying you have to be born into it, but if you put the more quality players in the game, the more people would come to watch it.”
Get all the latest NRL news, highlights and analysis delivered straight to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Sign up now!!!
The bunker overrules the bunker?
Former Queensland coach Wayne Bennett though branded the debate a “waste of time.”
“I don’t know why we beat ourselves up about that. It’s just a waste of time thing,” Bennett said to reporters on Thursday.
“We’ve got rules, the NRL created the rules, and I was a part of it at the time.
“There’s been some adjustments since then so go look at the rules.
“If the rule says (Taumalolo) can play, then he can play. But if they say he can’t play, then he’s not going to play.
“The rules are the rules.”
Former NSW player and league legend Phil Gould also added his voice to the debate, but disagreed with Bennett, describing the current rules as “ridiculous.”
‘Milford hasn’t been good in years’
“When State of Origin was first formed, back in 1980, our game was predominantly an Anglo-Saxon game played in NSW and Queensland. Well it’s anything but that now,” Gould said on Wide World of Sports’ Six Tackles with Gus podcast.
“The demographic of our game has changed remarkably since that time and our number-one product doesn’t necessarily reflect that demographic, which I think is one thing we need to look at.
“Number two: if we’re going to grow Pacific Island international football, and New Zealand international football – there are plenty of people of Pacific Island heritage who are born here in Australia, who still identify as Pacific Island heritage, who would love to be able to play for their country, but they can’t if they choose to play Origin football.
“So when they’re young and they write on their contract, ‘Do you want to play for Australia?’ or ‘Do you want to play for New Zealand?’ or ‘Do you want to play for someone else?’ they’ve got to make a decision. And the minute they don’t want to play for Australia they’re not eligible to play for NSW or Queensland.
“They might be born in Queensland, come through the Queensland junior system, play in Queensland rugby league their whole life, play Queensland under-17s, play Queensland under-19s, play Queensland under-20s and get graded into an NRL club from their Queensland base, but can’t play for Queensland. I find that ridiculous. I would allow them to play for Queensland.”