This story first appeared in Monday’s edition of League Express. To ensure you get news like this as soon as the paper is released on a Sunday night, click here to start your digital subscription and have the paper delivered to your smart device every Sunday night!
Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell has hit out at England’s selection policy concerning heritage players, saying he disagrees with the concept.
Wayne Bennett’s 20-man squad to play Samoa this weekend was met with a backlash after the inclusion of Australian-born duo Chris McQueen and Chris Heighington.
Yet Powell, who many believe has the credentials to be Bennett’s successor when he departs the role, claims to have no idea why Bennett is picking such players rather than homegrown, English talent.
He told League Express: “I disagree with it. I’ve never agreed with overseas players playing for England or any country that isn’t where they were born.
“That’s just a personal choice. I just don’t see why he had to do that, but he (Bennett) is coaching the team.”
Powell also questioned why England would select 34-year-old Heighington for the first time in six years.
“Like I say, I just disagree with it completely,” he said. “There are plenty of good backrowers over here.
“Heighington in particular, he’s in his 30s and he’s not a player who’s going to be around for a long while. I don’t get it, but it’s not my job. It is what it is.”
Powell has backed some of his players who didn’t get the call for the Samoa Test to force their way into Bennett’s thinking come the autumn.
He said: “Some players have been outstanding, particularly at the start of the year.
“Adam Milner has been really good and he’ll be looking to respond after a little dip. Michael Shenton hasn’t been picked, while Paul McShane has been good at hooker and we’ve got good players all across the park.
“Whether they can break into that elite squad for the World Cup remains to be seen, but the quality and the ambition are all there.”