Championship coach slams Austin selection

It’s safe to say Blake Austin’s selection for the England Elite Training Squad on Monday has divided opinion among fans and pundits alike.

But now a Championship coach who is also a former Super League player has had his say on the situation.

Austin qualifies to represent the Wall of White through his English grandmother, while his selection has only intensified the debate over whether or not heritage players should be chosen.

RFL Rugby Director Kevin Sinfield justified the decision yesterday by claiming Austin has shown outstanding commitment to the cause, however, one of his ex-teammates doesn’t agree.

Former Leeds hooker and current Batley Bulldogs coach Matt Diskin believes that while Austin is a quality player, his selection devalues Super League.

In a debate on Twitter, he said: “I believe Blake Austin is an unbelievably talented player; presently the best half back in Super League, but he’s not English.

“As a so-called ‘major’ nation we are devaluing our competition with the selection.

“The majority of Pacific Islanders who represented New Zealand or Australia spent the majority of their lives in those countries.

“Austin was born, raised and is 100% Australian.

“[Gareth Widdop and Jack Reed] were born in England, but grew up in another country.

“They pinned their allegiance to England selection early, not when they were approaching the latter stages of their careers.

“The country you represent needs to be the one whose heritage and culture is something you are passionate about and or ingrained within you – not just an option for professional achievement!”