If the RLIF insisted on a stand down period then I could live with it if it was strictly enforced. A player should have to write to the RLIF stating that from the date of his letter he intended to sit out a period of time (perhaps a world cup cycle?) and from that point on represent x country.
I'd agree with that. I think eligibility should be binding based on any full international match, not whether it counts toward a World Cup or not. Personally, I'd tweak the current rules slightly to allow different periods of transfer depending on the gap in tiers jumped. So a transfer between national teams on:
same tier = 3 years stand down
one tier above or below
two or more tiers above or below = 1 year
I'd split the current full test members into two tiers
Tier 1 = Kangaroos, Kiwis, England, a future combined Pacific Islands team
Tier 2 = France, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Cooks, Fiji, PNG, Samoa, Tonga
Tier 3 = Lebanon, Russia, Serbia, USA
Tier 4 = the rest
Like cricket and the ICC's eligibility rule, I'd suggest that a player could switch to play for only one other, different national team, but could return to the original national team after another stand-down i.e. you can't play for three national teams - which players have done in international football (Alfredo Di Stefano), Rugby Union (Topo Rodriguez). Cricket Ed Joyce played for Ireland, then England, and is looking to play for Ireland again. Cricket's ICC allows that.
FWIW, I'd like to see players like Williams and Uate play for Tonga and Fiji, and hopefully stick with them. However, I think the game has to provide incentive for them to do that, but if they then want to switch, then they stand down as above.
On the more general point of the PI nations, I'd suggest people take a look at the actions of the Cook Islands over the past few years. They've worked slowly, deliberately, to build a team from the ground up. They've used a mixture of players born/raised in the Cooks, Australia and New Zealand and developed a group that knows one another well and has played together for some time. In fact many of the team in last years Pacific Cup played together for the Cooks in their U-16's and 18's, such is the system they've put in place (despite their lack of financial clout).
Compare that to the likes of Tonga and Samoa, who wait until Australia and New Zealand have picked their squads before selecting their own from what's left. That means their teams change quite drastically from one year to the next, there is never any consistency in selection or performance, and it is near impossible for them to genuinely develop a team or a national programme.
The results are there for all to see in the 2008 RLWC and the 2009 Pacific Cup. There is only one way to see genuine internatinal development, and it is by looking at the Cook Islands and Fiji.
I agree that Fiji and Cook Islands' Leagues attention to grassroots development has been commendable, their structures are well planned and structured, and CI is producing home grown players, Kevin Iro and Matthew Rua seem to have done a lot there. In part, Cook Islands had relatively few heritage players to choose from, so they may have felt compelled to develop local talent. The Cooks tried to get Karmichael Hunt to play for Cooks in the Pacific Cup last year before he switched to AFL, he wanted to play, but the ARL blocked him, as they did with Israel Folau and Tonga this year.
Either way, Cook Islands have put good structures into place and performed remarkably, and the other PIs will hopefully learn from them.
Edited by TheObserver, 18 September 2010 - 02:46 AM.