Shannons no Queenslander!
By STEVE SPINKS
NORTHERN Rivers rugby league officials have laughed off suggestions by Queensland league managing director Ross Livermore about the eligibility of Kyogle's Shannon Walker playing State of Origin for the Maroons.
Livermore was quoted in the Queensland media as suggesting Walker may be contacted by Maroons coach Mal Meninga to attend an Emerging Origin players' camp in the off-season after the fullback won the Queensland Cup best and fairest medal this week.
"It is not clear which State Shannon is eligible for," he told a Brisbane newspaper.
"It is one of those grey areas. But he looks an Origin prospect and if he played schoolboy football for Palm Beach I would say he is a Queenslander."
However, Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League secretary Doug Harrison believes Livermore is dreaming.
"There is no way, no matter which way they twist it, that Shannon could play for Queensland," Harrison chuckled.
"He played his first senior football in New South Wales."
The 'grey' area Livermore believes makes Walker a Queenslander is the fact he attended Palm Beach-Currumbin High on the Gold Coast when the 18-year-old was on scholarship with the Gold Coast Titans.
While at the school, he was selected for Queensland Schoolboys and then went on to represent Australian Schools.
This year he represented the Maroons in the Queensland Residents team while playing for Tweed Seagulls.
However, the eligibility rules of State of Origin are based on where a player played his first senior football.
Walker played a full season with Kyogle in the Northern Rivers competition last year and also a number of first grade games the season before.
"He played all his junior footy here before playing all last season in the seniors," Kyogle club president John O'Reilly said.
For Walker, the talk surrounding State of Origin is bewildering considering he hasn't even played in the NRL.
"I haven't really thought about it," Walker said.
"I grew up in NSW and I reckon Dad would probably be a bit disappointed if I didn't play with NSW. But Mum is from Queensland, so she'd be happy.
"It would be hard to knock back (if Meninga called), but I'll worry about it if it comes."
The small matter of the Queensland Cup grand final against Redcliffe at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane this Saturday is dominating the fullback's thoughts at the moment.