Raised in the NRL: England Rugby League's newest Aussie recruits

The NRL is rugby league's toughest club competition, and for that reason it has been heartening for England fans to see a smattering of English players such as Sam Burgess plying their trade in Australia.

However, some names have come into contention for England places who will not necessarily be that familiar to people in the United Kingdom. Chris Heighington and Jack Reed both speak with Australian accents and yet they have been included in Steve McNamara's England squad.

Heighington, a back-row forward, qualifies for England though his English father, who emigrated to Australia from County Durham while he was in his early-20s. The player was born in Sydney.

The 28-year-old plays for West Tigers in the NRL, and is a team-mate of established England second-row forward Gareth Ellis. He has made almost 200 appearances in the NRL, and has been hailed for his work ethic and positive attitude.

Beni Marshall, the great Kiwi stand-off who also plays for Wests, has described Heihington as: "the heart and soul of Wests Tigers on and off the field."

He has also earned representative honours, having played for the Prime Minister's XIII, and has been tipped in the past, until it became clear he wanted to play for England, for State of Origin honours.

Jack Reed differs from Heighington in that he was actually born in England, and in the rugby league heartland of West Yorkshire. However, he has spent the vast majority of his life in Australia, having moved to Bribie Island in Queensland with his family at the age of just two.

The 23-year-old centre had, like Heighington, been tipped for State of Origin honours before it became clear that he wanted to represent the land of his birth. The sheer amount of quality players which Queensland have at their disposal also apparently helped persuade him to opt for England.

Now a regular for the Brisbane Broncos, Reed has earned his England call-up as a result of being an ever-present throughout the 2011 NRL campaign.

Reed had reportedly been given the option to move back to England and join a Championship One outfit in 2010, after a disappointing spell with Canberra Raiders' feeder club Souths Logan Magpies.

However, Queensland Cup outfit Norths Devils threw the young centre a lifeline, and he took full advantage, establishing himself quickly in the Broncos side, making his debut in 2011's first game of the season against the North Queensland Cowboys.

The nature of Reed's quick rise has impressed many. It was not that long before his debut season for the Broncos that the youngster was playing park rugby and doing manual work in the construction industry.

Liek Heighington, his work ethic and reliance have been hailed by coaches who have worked with the centre, and it seems that he can look forward to a lengthy representative career playing for the country of his birth.

 

 

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