In a move that will have ramifications for the ARL over the next decade, its Kiwi counterparts have started to lock up the next generation of Aussie-based, but New Zealand-eligible, stars by copying the ''Baby Blues'' system formulated by NSW.
New Zealand national coach Stephen Kearney and his assistant Tony Iro have been quietly aggressive over the past few months in appealing to the 150 players in the NRL's under-20s competition eligible for either country to identify themselves as Kiwis.
They've now moved on to the next tier, the under-18s, and the first stage of their master plan took shape over the weekend with a squad of 18 teenagers from the SG Ball and other elite Australian competitions going into camp with the New Zealand World Cup squad. After years in the Origin wilderness, NSW started a similar program in 2011 to try and stem the flow of young Blues to Queensland. Fairfax Media understands the camp was the first of several that are planned to make the Aussie-Kiwi teens to feel as though they ''belong'' to the reigning world champions.
Their ''induction'' over the weekend included having breakfast with the Kiwis, attending lectures about the responsibilities of being a potential New Zealand international, opposing the Kiwi World Cup squad in a field session, having lunch with the World Cup and under-20 Kiwis team and then travelling on the bus to watch the under-20s Test between Australia and the Kiwis at Kogarah Oval.
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Its a smart move by the Kiwis, they already do ok with the players that are Australians by birth but choose to represent NZ for different reasons.
In last years Anzac Test from a squad of 19 they had 7 Australian born players.