The Courier-Mail

DOES THIS LOOK BLUE TO YOU?

- PETER BADEL

HERE is the image that exposes the NRL’s Origin eligibilit­y rules as a farce.

It is why Maroons coach Mal Meninga believes Luke Keary should be granted an appeal to play for Queensland.

The Courier-Mail has obtained evidence which shows Keary training with Queensland’s Junior Emerging Origin squad two years before his controvers­ial selection in the Emerging Blues in December.

The classy Souths pivot will tonight go head-to-head with Brisbane rival Anthony Milford, who trained alongside Keary in the QAS program run by Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.

Milford grew up in Inala, 25km from Keary’s place of birth in Ipswich.

But while Milford has since been promoted to the Queensland Origin team’s extended squad, the code’s eligibilit­y rules, revised in 2012, have deemed Keary a New South Welshman.

In a further embarrassm­ent, Keary trained with the 2012 Junior Maroons one month after the ARL Commission signed the rules that made him a Blue.

Meninga yesterday called for NRL authoritie­s to give Keary the opportunit­y to have his Origin status overturned.

“Under the current qualificat­ions, Luke isn’t a Queensland­er, I accept that,” Meninga said. “But there has to be some appeal process for Luke.

“Each case should be treated on its merits and Luke is a special case.

“The kid was born Queensland.

“Luke had no say in where his parents chose to live for whatever reason. He should be able to appeal based on compassion or circumstan­ces.’'

The Rabbitohs playmaker qualifies for the Blues because his parents moved to Sydney when he was 10.

The issue is so touchy Keary gets nervous when the word “Origin” is mentioned, mindful

in not to offend after his formal letter to be ruled a Queensland­er was rejected by the NRL.

Everything about Keary screams Maroon.

He idolised Wally Lewis, cheered for Queensland at Origin time and was a Broncos fan who marvelled at the fearless backfield running of Karmichael Hunt.

Keary yesterday recalled his stint with Queensland’s junior program, where he crossed paths with Dylan Napa and Milford.

“I went to a Queensland Emerging camp with Anthony a few years ago and he’s a good fella,” he said.

“He’s a freakish athlete, a real talent. Growing up, my whole family would get into Origin and we all supported the Broncos.

“We used to go to their old home ground, ANZ Stadium, all the time.

“I used to like watching Darren Lockyer and Alfie Langer because Alf was from Ipswich, like myself.’’

Bennett said yesterday Keary was being forced to play for NSW against his wishes.

“They (the NRL) have made him into a NSW player,’’ he said.

“He’s a wonderful young player but he had no say in it. He will probably put some Maroon under his Blue jumper one day.’’

 ??  ?? UNLUCKY LUKE: Luke Keary at the 2012 Junior Maroons training camp; and (inset) playing for South Sydney.
UNLUCKY LUKE: Luke Keary at the 2012 Junior Maroons training camp; and (inset) playing for South Sydney.
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