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*** DO NOT CHANGE THIS CROP *** It is intended as a generic image for rugby league and rugby union stories. David Nielsen

Maroons Origin star has a blue over Keary

RUGBY LEAGUE: Queensland State of Origin great Chris Close has branded NSW's efforts to force boom Queensland-born teenager Luke Keary into a Blues' jumper as "horribly immoral".

Origin's first man of the match ripped into the game's governing body as Keary this week pleaded with NRL chief executive David Smith to overturn a ruling deeming he must play Origin for NSW.

Keary, an exciting prospect with South Sydney, was born in Allan Langer heartland in Ipswich. He played his first senior football for the Burleigh Bears in the Queensland Cup, yet under new eligibility rules ticks more blue boxes than maroon ones.

Close fired up when asked by APN yesterday if Queensland would ever force a player into a Maroon jumper.

"It doesn't matter what sport it is ... soccer, rugby, AFL, tennis, golf or tiddlywinks, if your heart isn't where it needs to be, you are no value to the team you represent," said Close, whose backhander to the face of NSW winger Eric Grothe in the first Origin game at Lang Park in 1980, earned him the nickname "Choppy".

"For anybody, regardless of whether they be a Queenslander, New South Welshman or an Adelaide Crow, to try and force another human being to do something they don't want to do, is absolutely immoral, absolutely unnecessary and totally unjustified."

Keary sent a letter to Smith this week explaining why he wanted to play for Queensland.

Speculation is rife that Keary is being used to get back at Queensland over Greg Inglis' eligibility, which is still a sore point with NSW fans.

Close said if NSW was being that childish and petty to mess with a talented young player's career, then officials should be thoroughly ashamed.

"Where has our great game gone to stoop to that level," said Close, man-of-the-match in the first two of his 14 Origins for Queensland.

Close said Inglis made a conscious decision, with no encouragement, to play for Queensland and NSW should let Keary do the same.

"NSW fans can bleat and whinge as much as they like, but it was Greg Inglis' decision and this young kid should be able to play where his heart is," Close said.

The Queensland Rugby League, which under the leadership of the late Ross Livermore, would have gone into bat for Keary, is believed to be hamstrung by changes to eligibility rules.

Despite that, QRL officials are understood to be advising the five-eighth who is desperate to chase his dream of playing for Queensland.


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