If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: Matt Parish on international eligibility criteria

Matt Parish Samoa News Images Credit: Alamy
Matt Parish Samoa News Images Credit: Alamy

Matt Parish has warned that making Samoa a tier one nation would do them more harm than good under the current eligibility criteria.

Samoa have enjoyed an enormous rise to the top of the international scene. This autumn, the Pacific Island became the first-ever tier two nation to reach a Rugby League World Cup final.

Parish’s side fell short to a 30-10 defeat against the all-conquering Australia in the final in front of a 67,502 crowd at Old Trafford.

But despite their impressive World Cup campaign, Parish says Samoa don’t want to be a tier one nation.

Under current eligibility rules, players can play for tier two Samoa as well as playing State of Origin. But if Samoa were to become tier one, then players would have to choose one or the other. Or they could play Origin and for Australia if eligible.

Parish said: “First of all, do you want Origin to stay as Origin? Do you want these guys to play Origin? Yes we do. Do we want these guys to play for Samoa? Yes we do, so Samoa can’t be a tier one nation to do that.

“Is the international game not as good as it’s ever been? If they want to change the rules, they’ll go back to three teams again.”

Samoa captain Junior Paulo added: “We understand there is criteria that you’ve got to meet to be a tier one nation but this is just a step in the right direction for us.”

Matt Parish: The more games we get, the better

Parish would love to build on Samoa’s successful World Cup by playing more international matches, but admits player welfare should come into consideration too.

“I think the more games we get, the better,” he said.

“Listening to Junior talk and it’s humbling to see how many people they’ve touched all around the world and inspiring Samoans.

“As I said before, it’s a fine line because as far as you want international footy to grow and thrive, these guys need an off-season where they can rest. 37 games today and (he) plays 60-odd minutes in the front-row. He’s made of tough stuff.”

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