Meninga calling on NRL boss to let Keary play for home state

MAL Meninga has urged NRL boss David Smith to show promising Luke Keary some compassion as the teenager wages an emotional battle to be allowed play State of Origin for Queensland.

Smith made a comment last week that the Ipswich-born Keary would have to play by the new eligibility rules deeming he has to play for New South Wales.

Former Queensland Origin centre Chris Close described the NRL's decision to force the Queensland-born Keary to pull on a Blues jumper as "immoral".

His 1980 teammate in the first Origin, Meninga, agreed yesterday when asked his take on the talented South Sydney playmaker's situation.

"I'm extremely disappointed for Luke that there's no framework within the eligibility rules for him to appeal on compassionate grounds or for them to examine case by case circumstances," said Meninga, confirming Queensland would shift its team base from Coolum on the Sunshine Coast to Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast as reported exclusively by APN in February.

"Luke wants to play for Queensland, he's a passionate Queenslander.

"If I were Laurie (NSW coach Laurie Daley) or a (Blues) selector, I wouldn't even be thinking about picking Luke Keary."

Meninga, plotting a ninth successive Origin series since 2006, said he felt sorry Keary as he was "the first cab off the rank" after the black and white eligibility rules were introduced.

"I'm disappointed for him, I'd love to have him in the Queensland system, he wants to be in the Queensland system and I think he deserves to be.

Meninga said he hoped there would be some forum to hear Keary's case rather than just rule on some answers to a questionnaire.

"I don't think he's met with David Smith. David's been given some direction from those below him but for anybody in the game, not just Luke Keary, you have to have some kind of forum where you can appeal. Legally, that's what happens in society so why can't it happen in this case."

Meanwhile, in other rugby league news, mining magnate Nathan Tinkler appears to have relinquished ownership of the Newcastle Knights NRL licence after failing to meet a 5pm bank deadline yesterday to pay a $10.5 million guarantee as part of the conditions of him taking over the club in 2011.

The NRL's head of club and state services Tony Crawford said the Knights Members Club and the Hunter Sports Group had agreed to hold off any further action in relation to the club's ownership until the NRL had held discussions with both parties.

Knight's chairman and former player Paul Harragon said on the weekend he was confident the ownership issue would be sorted out in the next week or two while NRL boss David Smith gave an assurance last week the Newcastle Knights would remain a strong presence in the NRL with or without Tinkler's support.

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