Wales coach John Kear admits there are no hard feelings towards Morgan Knowles after the backrower switched his international allegiance to England last week.
Cumbrian-born Knowles qualified to play for Wales through his Welsh mother, and went on to win three caps for Wales at Under-16s and two at Under-19s before going on to play four times for Wales’ senior side between 2015 and 2017.
After an impressive season with St Helens in 2019, the 23 year-old was named in the Super League Dream Team, but missed out on last year’s Great Britain Tour due to surgery. But he is now hoping to represent the nation of his birth in next year’s World Cup.
Knowles follows in the footsteps of Tyson Frizell, who featured for Wales in the 2013 World Cup before going on to be a regular member of the Australian squad.
Kear meanwhile, whilst disappointed to lose the services of Knowles, is also pleased that he has been able to shape the career of a future England international.
“I have spoken to Morgan a number of times about his decision and I fully support him in this,” said Kear.
“What we have got to accept is that we are still a Tier Two nation and I fully understand that this can, and will, happen.
“Tyson Frizell played for us, then went on to be an established player and opted to play for a Tier One nation. He’s now an Australian International and an established Origin player.
“We feel that we have helped Morgan in a similar way to get a leg up on to the international stage and that is magnificent for us.
“He fully deserves his opportunity with England. He’s the nearest thing I have seen to Sean O’Loughlin in a number of years and I can see him being the captain of St Helens pretty soon.
“We’re even using this to sell Wales to others. We have a couple of young kids we might get on board for next year’s World Cup and we’re telling them to look at what playing for Wales did for Tyson and we can also now tell them that we’ve helped Morgan progress in his career.
“I would have preferred him to be pulling a red shirt on rather than a white one, but I fully understand Shaun Wane’s desire to get him in and Morgan’s desire to play for the country of his birth.”
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