YOU are never very far from an Australian in rugby league. They have a lot of guts and add a lot to our game, do great barbeques although they do tend to wear flip-flops in January.
But there are some areas they should stay out of. Huddersfield Giants’ Australian coach Nathan Brown has taken it upon himself to pontificate about the make up of the England squad.
He wasn’t happy that England coach Steve McNamara included New Zealand-born half-back Rangi Chase in last season’s Four Nations squad. Plus he’s attacked the call-up of Australian-raised hooker Ian Henderson in the training squad.
Now Henderson, younger brother of Sheffield Eagles Andrew, was born in the deep outback lands of Torquay, Devon, and moved to Oz aged five. Ian, who plays for French club Catalan Dragons (I suppose that’s another debit mark on Brown’s checklist) may not sound much like a Devonian but he’s proud to be given the chance to play for the country of his birth. Chase qualifies by residence – and anyone who wants to live in Castleford has earned an international call up.
Eagles’ prop forward Mitch Stringer was also born in Devon – but I don’t suggest you try telling him he’s not a Barnsley lad (PS Mr Brown, Mitch also plays for Scotland).
Ian Henderson has hit back at Brown’s “closed minded” views and added that to question his commitment to England’s cause was “ignorant and insulting”. He won’t need much motivation if he’s handed an England shirt. Brown was upset because his club’s hooker Luke Robinson was overlooked – maybe he can’t see that Ian Henderson is the player in form. Playing the ‘Little Englander’ card is a bit rich coming from an Aussie. Brown would no doubt want England to check not only the player’s passports but also hold elocution tests before they are picked.
The Giants’ boss has got real cheek. He’s made his name as the coach at Huddersfield and will be moving on to take charge at St Helens next season. I doubt if he would have got the same chances in Australia.
He wants to remember that the England coach picks the team not a supporter of the opposition.
There is a campaign to try and protect rugby league coverage on BBC local radio. The RFL has been lobbying to reduce the impact cost-saving measures are likely to have on mid-week programming.
Rugby League could be a big loser if local stations switch to a common national service between 7pm and 10pm most nights. Well it will be a loser in most areas where the game is played except South Yorkshire – because we don’t have any coverage to speak of.
Radio Sheffield has switched off almost totally from covering either Eagles or Doncaster. It’s “your station for local sport” unless it’s rugby league.
Maybe a national common service would ensure some coverage. It would save getting Radio Leeds on the net where they do respect the 13-a-side code.