Michael Dobson: The Exile England allowed to get away?

The selection by Steve McNamara of New Zealander Rangi Chase continues to excite many in rugby league. Some see his selection as a positive reflection of the way the world of international sport is changing, and welcome the inclusion of such a naturally gifted player in the national side.

Others, perhaps many more, see him as an interloper, a player who is taking the place of a ‘genuine’ Englishman in the team. Still others do not care one way or the other, as long as England win.

The selection of Chase though has raised other questions, such as why did McNamara pick this particular Antipodean. There are actually other halfbacks from Down Under who are eligible, and who might add more to the team than Chase does.

One of these is Hull Kingston Rovers number 7, Michael Dobson, who has now been playing in England since 2006, first for Wigan Warriors and subsequently for Hull KR.

In 2009, he won the Albert Goldthorpe Medal, and has featured in the Super League Dream Teams of 2009 and 2010. He has almost carried Hull KR’s attack single-handed in the tough times of the last couple of campaigns, and has been selected in the Exiles team for the forthcoming clash with England.

He would also now be eligible for England on grounds of residence, much like Rangi Chase.

Looking at the kind of quality he has produced over the last few years, do England have a native-born halfback who comes anywhere close?

Maybe he has been sounded out and has chosen not to nail his colours to the England mast. No one will really know that apart from him and Steve McNamara. 

But when he lines up against the English a week on Friday, perhaps in tandem with Hull KR halfback partner Travis Burns, his kicking game and all-round rugby brain is likely to pose Kevin Sinfield’s men some real problems.

And how England have cried out in recent seasons for a man with those kind of qualities. Which makes the decision to pick Chase rather than him as an honorary Englishman look a little baffling from here.

So when he steps out, wearing the number 7 shirt for the Exiles at Warrington, there might just be one or two of us wondering as to what might have been.

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