By 2005 19-year-old Sonny Bill Williams had already won an NRL premiership and was one of the legitimate stars of the competition.
After just five first grade games, Williams made his debut for the Kiwis in the ANZAC Test at Marathon Stadium on April 23rd, 2004.
This was a kid with the world at his feet.
Much has been made of Williams and his career decisions in the seasons immediately following. He became Money Bill William$ to many.
A hired gun ready to play for the highest bidder.
How ironic that it is the words of Sonny that have stood the test of time.
Arthur Beetson Medal – Round 3
In 2005, Williams was asked whether he wanted to play State of Origin.
“Yep, for sure,” he began in his laconic way on Channel Nine.
“But in saying that if they did relax the rules, they would be breaking the tradition of State of Origin. That’s what is so important about it.
“When I was young I would watch New South Wales and Queensland going at it. It was an awesome feeling – because I am proud of where I come from (and) I could see how proud they were (playing Origin).”
Which it makes it difficult to get your head around Tongan poster boy Jason Taumalolo putting his hand up to represent the Maroons.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys is considering tinkering with the eligibility rules to allow the giant forward to make his debut for the Maroons.
“I love Tonga and that will always be my family’s heritage,” Taumalolo told The Courier-Mail.
“… But in my mind I am also a Queenslander … [if] I’m allowed to play State of Origin, it would be the pinnacle to be in that arena.”
What was the 2017 World Cup about then?
The fairy tale run to the semi-finals, the meetings with the King of Tonga? The Sipi Tau with Taumalolo rising like a mountain from beneath his teammates?
Or the thousands of die hard Tongan fans flocking to fill stadiums across New Zealand to see their nation shock the world…
In 2014, English hero Sam Burgess admitted he was keen to represent the Blues as he edged toward Australian citizenship.
At that time, NRL spokesman Andrew Hill knocked it on the head.
”The commission was very keen to ensure the concept of the State of Origin remained as a game between NSW and Queensland,” Hill said.
”Tightening up the eligibility rules was to go towards ensuring the state versus state, mate versus mate concept was protected.”
It appears most can see that allowing Taumalolo into Origin almost immediately kills the concept. It becomes just another all-star game.
There is also another big roadblock for the former Dally M winner.
Taumalolo has already played for New Zealand.
That’s the end of it.
The only problem is V’landys who continues to shift the goalposts.