Freeman calls for new Tri-Nations rules - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Freeman calls for new Tri-Nations rules

By Steve Jancetic 01/11/2006 07:13:23 PM Comments (0)

Former New Zealand Test skipper Gary Freeman has called for an overhaul of the Tri-Nations rules in light of the farcical circumstances surrounding Nathan Fien's eligibility for the Kiwis.

While New Zealand authorities spent the day putting together a submission they hope will see them avoid being stripped of two competition points, Freeman said the situation should never have got as far as it did.

Mt Isa-born Fien played in last weekend's 18-14 win over Great Britain in Christchurch after providing Kiwi officials of a birth certificate which he believed showed his grandmother was born in New Zealand.

It was later revealed the name on the birth certificate was in fact Fien's great grandmother, ruling him ineligible to play for the Kiwis as Tri-Nations rules state ancestral links to play for an adopted homeland can only go back as far as the grandparents.

Freeman said it was time the issue of eligibility was cleared up once and for all, citing Brisbane lock Tonie Carroll as the best example of why the rules needed to be re-written.

Carroll played for Queensland before switching allegiances to New Zealand and then back to Australia at the start of the decade.

"There's been a number of players before Nathan Fien that have slipped through the system," Freeman said.

"The system is at fault, it's never been black and white, there's been a little bit of a grey area there.

"It's not his fault, all he's done is provide a birth certificate. That's why we have administrators, players are not administrators. It's the administrators that have to have a look at themselves here.

"Other players have slipped through who have played for Australia, then played for New Zealand and then gone back and played for Australia.

"Those things have been happening for the last 10 years and I think now it's come to a head where I think the Australian Rugby League, the New Zealand Rugby League and the Great Britain Rugby League have got to get together and say right these are the rules black and white."

A re-writing of the rules may not be enough to save New Zealand and Fien this time around with the Rugby League International Federation likely to deduct the points from the Kiwis for their win over the Lions.

Fien's participation in the tournament is also likely to be brought to an end, but his Test career may not be over with the New Zealand Warriors hooker to qualify under residency status by the end of next year.

Freeman said as far as he was concerned Fien was a Kiwi.

"Nathan Fien has said he wants to play for New Zealand - for me that's good enough," Freeman said.

"That's like (Australian fullback) Karmichael Hunt saying 'yes I was born in New Zealand and stayed there until I was 13, but I came over here to play and I really want to play for Australia.'

"That's fine by me too. At least they made a hard and fast decision."

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