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Is it time for Origin to change its inconsistent eligibility rules?

Imagine Queensland Cowboys powerhouse Jason Taumalolo, currently the most devastating ball runner in the NRL, playing in the State of Origin arena.

It could have happened.

Taumalolo moved to Townsville at the age of 14 and ticked all the boxes for eligibility, except one.

He chose to play for his country of origin, New Zealand (before defecting to Tonga for the World Cup) over State of Origin.

But should that change in the future — and should the game's governing body allow players to make themselves available for Queensland or New South Wales while representing their country of birth at the international level?

"We've got so many Islanders who've migrated to New Zealand or migrated to Australia for either lifestyle reasons or economic reasons. There's so many of them that have become among our best players," rugby league statistician David Middleton said.

"State of Origin's always been about the best playing the best."

"Now you've got Jason Taumalolo who's on the outside and he's probably regarded as one of the top three or four players in the game."

Under the current eligibility rules, if you choose to play for a tier-one nation other than Australia, (New Zealand, England) you cannot play for the Maroons or the Blues.

"Going forward, if we want to have the best players involved in Origin, then maybe they do need to loosen things up again and change it so you can get your Jason Taumalolos playing Origin and also representing New Zealand or Tonga," Middleton said.

"You can imagine there'll be pressure if in 10 years' time, we've got 10 Jason Taumalolo's not playing State of Origin, how much pressure will come from sponsors, from television to loosen those eligibility laws to allow them to play?"

The NRL has already begun tinkering with State of Origin.

Over the next three years Origin matches will be held in Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide, taking the game away from the rugby league heartland to a new audience.

Middleton believes the game should explore the possibility of going even further, by taking Origin abroad and even entertaining the idea of expanding the contest.

"Do we retain Origin in its current format and then maybe extend Origin to have the winning team in Origin that goes to play New Zealand or a Pacific team or have a different series beyond it maybe at the end of the year?"

How is NSW-born Inglis a Maroon?

Inglis and Cordner in their Origin kits, in the MCG stands

Good timing and officials deciding to turn a blind eye is what allowed Greg Inglis to become the 13th captain of the Queensland Maroons.

If he was making his debut today it would be in a sky-blue jersey.

Inglis was born in Kempsey on the New South Wales mid north coast and first pulled on a pair of footy boots when he played for the Bowraville Tigers.

He played his first senior game at 16, for Hunter Sports High School in New South Wales.

"That should have qualified him for New South Wales, but by the time that was pointed out it was a bit late," Middleton said.

New South Wales officials decided to let Inglis go, because Queensland had suffered three consecutive series losses.

"They were looking for a break and once Inglis had played for Queensland there was no turning back."

"Greg's been an institution for Origin with the Maroons.

"I think they've [NSW officials] regretted the decision for a long time, but once it was made it would have been even more embarrassing to backtrack and try and drag Greg out of a Queensland jersey and put him in a New South Wales one, even though that's probably most likely where he belongs.

"I think it's been a black eye for those particular officials, and it'll live with them forever."

Origin littered with outsiders

Maroons' Israel Folau celebrates after scoring a try in Origin II, 2008

Of the 196 players to have represented Queensland, 32 were born in a different state or country.

While 17 of the 267 players who have represented New South Wales were born somewhere else.

"Origin's really littered with them," Middleton said.

"Peter Sterling was born in Toowoomba. Adrian Lam was the Papua New Guinean national captain, he played for Queensland.

"Craig Smith was a New Zealander through and through and went to college in Ipswich.

"There are so many … Israel Folau [born in NSW] probably should have never been a Queenslander."

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