RFL rugby director Kevin Sinfield has explained why Australian-born half-back Blake Austin has been named in England’s Elite Performance Squad.
The Sydney-born stand-off is currently joint top of the Steve Prescott Man of Steel rankings alongside Salford star Jackson Hastings.
Austin has been in scintillating form in Super League since joining Warrington ahead of the 2019 season, and qualifies to play for England and Great Britain through his grandmother. He was named in England’s Elite Performance Squad on Monday.
Sinfield explained: “Blake Austin is a quality player but just as important is his commitment to joining our England squad.
“Unlike a few other guys who would qualify to play for Great Britain later this year through their ancestry from other home nations, he would make himself unavailable to play any representative rugby in Australia as soon as he plays for England, because England are a tier-one nation.
“That is a good indication of his commitment to joining our group, and we believe he will be a very positive addition.
“It is a bit different this year with a Great Britain squad to be selected at the end of the season for the Rugby League Lions tour, but there is still a focus on England with the Nines, and after all the progress we’ve made since setting up the England Performance Unit after the last World Cup in 2017, it was important that we maintained that continuity through 2019 as we continue to work towards hosting RLWC 2021.”