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Rugby league legend Ron Coote says Semi Radradra should not be allowed to play for Australia again unless the Fijian flyer pledges his allegiance to the NRL.
Parramatta were last night still waiting to see if the star winger would come good on a promise to return to Sydney in time to attend tomorrow’s training session ahead of Saturday’s crucial clash against Cronulla.
With the Eels facing the prospect of being stripped of 12 competition points later this week for their salary cap punishment, the last thing Brad Arthur and his team can afford heading into the showdown against the Sharks is for this to carry on any longer.
But the whole circus surrounding Radradra’s so-called sanctioned return to Fiji as he weighs up his footballing future has only reignited debate over the original decision to allow him to play for the Kangaroos in the recent Test against New Zealand.
Like many, Coote thought it would have been in everyone’s best interests if Radradra had stayed playing for Fiji.
Asked if he believed Radradra should now be made to give a guarantee to the NRL in order to be selected for Australia at this year’s end of season Four Nations tournament, the highly respected former Test forward said: “I think that is right.
“I can understand where he is coming from, saying he is looking to earn as much money as he can.
“But you can’t have it both ways. I mean, he has to have some loyalty here too.”
While Radradra has earned plenty of sympathy for supposedly not being paid what his talent deserves, it is understood the 24-year-old former kava farmer will still earn close to $400,000 to play rugby league this year.
On top of that he stands to collect up to $160,000 if the Kangaroos are successful at the Four Nations and next year’s World Cup.
Australian players get paid $20,000 a Test plus bonuses.
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Parramatta are also looking to upgrade Radradra’s contract and the club is hopeful that can be done in the coming months.
“He is a great player,” Coote added.
“We all recognise that. He is a special player.
“He is a great acquisition to the game I think and he is as good a winger as you would see playing the game.
“He scores some unbelievable tries and if you have got players like that you have to have them in your team.
“If he is playing in this country and committed to it then let him play.”
But if not Coote says give the opportunity to someone else.
“He is taking the guernsey away from someone who wants to play and there is plenty of them,” Coote added.
“And they score good tries too. Probably not as good as he does but they are not far behind him.
“I’d rather see the Australian blokes get in there.”
Radradra was initially due back in Sydney on Sunday but was given an extension by his coach.
Only last week Radradra admitted he was uncertain if his future would be in the NRL or chasing the riches of rugby union overseas.
Radradra’s management has since given a commitment that the 24-year-old would honour the remainder of his contract at Parramatta until the end of next season.
That came after the NRL made it clear to his management that Radradra
would face a long ban if he did a runner on the Eels.
But Radradra’s delayed return has only fuelled speculation he could still make a future code switch.