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NZ hopeful Kasiano will stay a Kiwi

New Zealand officials say they're powerless to stop Sam Kasiano declaring for Queensland despite the Canterbury prop signing a letter saying he wants to play for the Kiwis earlier this year.
NZ hopeful Kasiano will stay a Kiwi
by NRL

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, May 31 AAP - New Zealand officials say they're powerless to stop Sam Kasiano declaring for Queensland despite the Canterbury prop signing a letter saying he wants to play for the Kiwis earlier this year.

Kasiano, who agreed terms on a new three-year deal with Canterbury on Thursday following a strong start to the season with the Bulldogs, is believed to have expressed an interest in playing for the Maroons.

The giant prop, who tips the scales at more than 120kg, was born in Auckland, but moved to Brisbane after high school and played Queensland Cup for Brisbane Norths, before signing for the Bulldogs in 2010.

New Zealand Rugby League chief executive Jim Doyle admits he fears the 21-year-old could follow the lead of James Tamou, who switched allegiance to Australia so he could represent NSW.

Tamou was included in the Kiwis' train-on squad for last year's Four Nations campaign, but missed out on selection, allowing Australia to secure his services.

"We sent out letters to every single New Zealand-qualified player asking them if they wish to be considered for selection," Doyle told AAP.

"Sam ticked the box that said he wanted to play for New Zealand and as far as we're concerned, he's our player and someone who'd be considered for selection in the future.

"However, the letter is not legally binding and if Sam decides he wants to play for Queensland then there is nothing we can really do to stop him."

Tamou's defection caused outrage across the Tasman.

Doyle said the financial benefits on offer to Origin players can make it difficult to resist with NSW and Queensland stars earning $20,000 a game.

"The financial rewards of playing Origin are something we can't match," he said.

"But many of our guys have said how they would love the challenge of playing Origin, and that's why we're trying to develop our own between Auckland and the rest of New Zealand."

Doyle has tabled the idea to ARL Commission chief executive David Gallop and director of football operations Nathan McGuirk, but admits the response has been luke-warm, although not dismissed out of hand.

However, he said it would only be possible to play the game if there was a stand-alone Origin weekend in the calendar.

"It would be great if we could play on the same night as Origin over here, and it could be shown as a curtain-raiser to the NSW v Queensland game on TV," Doyle said.

"Alternatively, we could play on the Sunday after Origin.

"But at the moment it's not possible, because it would leave so many NRL clubs without players, which is why we want to have a stand-alone round."

Kasiano said he was delighted to sort out his future and praised the role of coach Des Hasler in making him one the best young props in the game.

"I love the Bulldogs," Kasiano said.

"They gave me a start and I'm really happy to be staying.

"I've loved playing first grade over the last couple of seasons and I'm looking forward to playing more with the boys in future.

"Des and the coaching staff have helped a lot to improve my game this year. Hopefully I can keep improving."


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