Fiji disappointed after Australia sign Semi Radradra
Fiji rugby league officials admit to being surprised and disappointed after Australia selected Semi Radradra in their national squad.
Fiji rugby league bosses are not happy after Semi Radradra was named in the Australian squad to play against New Zealand next weekend.
The 23 year old Parramatta Eels flyer born in Suva and represented the Fiji Bati at the 2013 World Cup and in the Pacific Test against Samoa two years ago.
Fiji NRL Chief Executive Officer Timoci Naleba told Vinnie Wylie the news caught them off guard.
TIMOCI NALEBA: Fiji is quite disappointed with the way things have gone with Semi. We had expected we would have the full strength Fiji team at least this year (including next weekend's Melanesian Cup clash against Papua New Guinea) because there's a lot of sanctioned matches.
VINNIE WYLIE: Because up until this year he obviously played for the Bati two years ago and he played at the World Cup so, as it stands, his eligibility up until now was with Fiji - is that correct?
TN: Yes Vinnie. The funny thing is there is no standard eligibility rule for rugby league players. We've noticed that with Jarryd Hayne and a few others who have changed national jerseys over the past few years...that's one thing we would like to discuss at the (Rugby League International Federation) AGM on the 7th of May.
VW: So do you think the eligibility rules are so complex or confusing that some players or some countries perhaps even don't fully understand them?
TN: That's correct. It's really not confusing but complex - I think that's the correct word to say.
VW: Because there's two scenarios isn't there: You're allowed to make one change between World Cup cycles and also you can make a change after two years so in Semi Radradra's case he last played for Fiji in 2014 so I guess it's been two years which means he is of course eligible to switch to Australia?
TN: I'm sure he played for Fiji last year in the May test (Semi Radradra is not listed in the Fiji squad from 2015) so I'm trying to confirm that with the game registration from last year - that's what we're trying to confirm now.
VW: Does he still have any interest in playing for Fiji or has he now fully decided that Australia is where he's at?
TN: We haven't gone back to Semi to talk to him. I think he's quite certain that he wants to play for Australia but what Fiji is concerned about is the process that has been followed - the only thing that we want to have clarified - because we will have other players, very good players that we have right now that might come into the same situation.
VW: In the past this ruling has benefited Fiji when you had Jarryd Hayne play for you at the World Cup and I guess...you've lost players in similar circumstances like Akuila Uate - you had him then you lost him and then he came back - so there's a lot of movement.
TN: Yes and just recently not only from Australian rugby league but..we have now information that Marika (Koroibete from the Melbourne Storm) is going to be leaving the Fiji Bati, I think it's for rugby union. All this is affecting the Fiji team's preparation.
VW: Is it hard to keep up with all that?
TN: Currently yes because in the past we didn't have a good local competition and what we are trying to do now is growing that and strengthening our local competition so that we have at least a consistent number of players that can play for Fiji even if some leave.
Fiji play Papua New Guinea next Saturday in their annual Pacific Test clash.
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