Jon Wilkin heaps praise on England star for ‘sacrificing money’

BBC rugby league pundit Jon Wilkin has heaped praise on one of England’s new stars.

Victor Radley has quickly become a huge favourite among supporters after choosing to represent England, the birthplace of his father, over waiting for a likely future opportunity in State of Origin and with the Kangaroos.

Radley’s decision to play for Shaun Wane’s men at this World Cup means he can never play State of Origin, one of the most lucrative opportunities for any rugby league player.

The Sydney Roosters loose forward spoke recently explaining how turning down Origin made the decision difficult but going with his heart rather than his head resulted in him representing his dad’s homeland.

Speaking on Radley’s decision, former St Helens and England player Wilkin told the BBC 5 Live Rugby League podcast of his appreciation for Radley’s sacrifice.

“I love the way he (Radley) talks about money,” said Wilkin. “He sacrificed money to do this. For me sport is never about money. When you start your journey at becoming elite at sport, money is never factored in.

“Money just corrupts that journey and people often make bad decisions when they make them just purely around money. Sport is a beautiful thing and I love the way Radley speaks about the sacrifice he has had to make.

“We can talk about money and commerciality of the sport and making it more lucrative for the players, but ultimately it is love, passion, pride, understanding your part in history what excited me to play rugby league.

“Whenever I lifted Super League or the Challenge Cup, it was never that moment, it was the moment you’re replicating where you’ve watched some of the great people in black and white do that same thing.

“That’s not about money, it’s about memories over actual things and money. Sport often gets corrupted by that.”

In the opening two games of the tournament, Radley has been one of England’s standout performers, putting in a man of the match display in week one against Samoa, before backing that up with another solid performance against France.

His decision to play for England already looks a good one, something he previously admitted was tough but a ‘feeling’ meant he couldn’t turn down the opportunity.

“A lot of people were telling me that I can play Origin, you can be paid well to play Origin, which I hadn’t yet done yet, so that was the big one to tell you the truth,” said Radley.

He added: “In my mind I was thinking before that maybe it is smarter to do that, but I just didn’t have the same feeling about that than what I did when I thought about playing in the World Cup for England.”

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