New eligibility rules should see fewer blowouts, says RLIF

The Rugby League International Federation believe that a change to the rules when it comes to eligibility may mean less “blowout” scores in the future ahead of next year’s World Cup.

Players can now play for a different country if not selected by tier-one countries – Australia, New Zealand and England.

And it’s believed by the RLIF that the decision will help to market itself to new areas if there are more decisive, closely-contested fixtures.

“It allows us to market a better product when we’re trying to sell it internationally,” RLIF international development manager Tas Baitieri told AAP.

“We’re going to have a better quality standard of the game which is going to be appealing to the public and also television broadcasters.

“When you have games that are blowout scorelines, it doesn’t endower the game a lot when you’re trying to sell the game to new countries like America,” Baitieri added.

Samoa stand to be the big winners of the decision, with a number of players including Milford, Josh McGuire, Suaia Matagi, Junior Paulo, Marty Taupau and Joseph Leilua set to star for the country if they miss Australian or New Zealand selection.

And while coach Matt Parish was delighted with the news, he warned a change needed to come at NRL level if the rule adjustment would have any affect on an annual basis through the mid-year Tests.

“It’s really disappointing that some clubs don’t support the international game,” he said.

“They support their players when they get picked for Australia and New Zealand but they need to support them when they get picked for Samoa and Tonga.”