The Kiwis could be the surprise benefactors of a rising NRL star’s State of Origin ineligibility drama with coach Michael Maguire confirming they will look to add Ronaldo Mulitalo to their World Cup squad.
Mulitalo was set to make his State of Origin debut last Sunday until the NSWRL flagged concerns about his eligibility, leading to him missing the match.
The 21-year-old confirmed on social media last Friday he wouldn't be granted an exemption to play State of Origin in the future.
The ruling came because it was revealed Auckland-born Mulitalo didn’t move to Queensland until just before his 14 th birthday but Origin selection criteria states he had to have resided in the Sunshine State before his 13 th birthday.
"I've officially been denied an exemption to represent Queensland going forward," he wrote.
"This isn't the way I pictured my time ending in the maroon jersey.
"Learnt many lessons in this journey but most importantly became a better man wearing this jersey. Here's to new opportunities."
The drama has opened an opportunity for the Kiwis and Maguire, who told NRL.com he would have no qualms in selecting him to play for his country of birth.
"Well and truly. Yes, definitely," Maguire said on Saturday when asked if he'd try to recruit Mulitalo for the Kiwis.
"He's moved into that [representative] space, into Queensland level, so he's seen what the top-end of town is in that quality of player.
"To be able to have someone like him come into the Kiwis down the track would be something that we're looking at, for sure.
"I've spoken to Ronaldo prior but we haven't for a while due to the internationals being sort of put on the shelf at the moment. But fingers crossed everything can sort itself out for the end of the season."
Mulitalo has already played one Test for Samoa and represented the United States at the 2019 World Cup 9s.