Interesting read, especially regarding Gavet’s eligibility to play for the Blues.
Wests Tigers enforcer James Gavet’s international career could be fast-tracked for next month’s Anzac Test after revelations he qualified for the Kangaroos because he was born in Sydney.
It was highly unlikely Gavet was even on Australia’s radar but if he could build on his fearlessness, aggression, insatiable appetite to run the ball and fearsome defence he may come on to the radar of a success-starved NSW in a future Origin campaign.
While he’d played for the Warriors under-20s, his first senior rugby league was played for the Canterbury Bulldogs, making him eligible for the Blues.
Fairfax Media believes he was closely monitored in Saturday night’s match against North Queensland by Kiwi selectors and Gavet said despite his passport and place of birth it was his dream to represent the Kiwis.
“You could say I’m an Aussie,” Gavet said. "I was born in Sydney, my parents eloped over here and went back home when I was three months old. I’m an Anzac baby.
"I’m a Kiwi at heart. It’s every young New Zealander’s dream to represent the Kiwis or All Blacks.
''All I’ve ever looked up to is people like Ruben Wiki, my manager Tyran Smith and Jonah Lomu who all played for our nation."
His pledge of allegiance comes at a time when New Zealand’s selectors are understood to be debating ahead of next month’s Anzac Test in Sydney whether to unleash the ‘‘beasts’’ - some of their aggressive but untried forwards like Gavet who were making an impact in the NRL - or to stick with those players who were trounced by Australia in last year’s World Cup final.
The panel must decide whether to play it safe and trot out the old faithfuls crushed by the Kangaroos 34-2 at Manchester or blood firebrands such as Gavet and fellow Wests Tigers prop Martin Taupau, Parramatta’s Manu Ma’u and Warriors ramrod Suaia Matagi.
The question they must address is what do they have at their disposal to counter the brilliance of such Aussie superstars as Billy Slater and Greg Inglis? It’s understood there was a push to call upon the fearlessness and the aggressive traits that made the likes of Ma’u and Gavet forces to be reckoned with in the NRL despite having played only a few first grade games.
One person who wouldn’t be critical if the Kiwis gambled on fresh blood in a match that has been dominated by the Australians since it’s inception in 1997 was New Zealand’s Test captain Kieran Foran who, in 2009, was presented the first of his 15 Test jumpers despite his limited experience.
“It’s exciting, they all look like strong, powerful forwards and guys who could certainly have a future in the Kiwi jersey,” Foran said. “It’s exciting when you’re seeing guys like [Ma’u and Gavet] come through the system.”
New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney admitted during the week that Ma’u’s name was “on a piece of paper” and while Parramatta co-captain Tim Mannah said Ma’u “wouldn’t be out of place” in the Test arena, Foran said his nation’s league history was crammed with stories of selectors taking a punt.
“It’s been done before,” he said. "You’ve seen the Kiwis pick guys with not many first grade games under their belts - I was one myself, I made my Test debut after I’d played only nine first grade games.
“There’s been plenty of guys who’ve done it. I would imagine if they’re good enough and in good enough form they’d warrant their spot in the team.”
“The emergence of these talented, young Kiwis is exciting. It certainly fills you with hope and a good feeling for what’s ahead. As I say, if they’re good enough they should get their chance.”