New Zealand considered Chase
Rangi Chase was in contention for a call-up to the New Zealand squad before his decision to switch allegiance to England.
Last Updated: 24/10/11 6:35pm
Rangi Chase was in contention for a call-up to the New Zealand squad before his decision to switch allegiance to England, Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney has revealed.
Castleford stand-off Chase, who won the Super League's Man of Steel award this year, was born and raised in New Zealand and even played for the New Zealand Maoris against England last season.
But he was never called up to the senior side and, after signing a new long-term contract with the Tigers, decided his best chance of winning international honours lay with England, for whom he was available on residency grounds.
He made his debut against France on Friday, winning the man-of-the-match award in the process and is now preparing to face Australia, Wales and the country of his birth in the upcoming Gillette Four Nations.
But New Zealand boss Kearney admits that the world champions did have Chase on their radar for selection before he committed to England.
"He was in a group of 56 players that we identified. We had that number to pick a squad from a couple of months ago and he was definitely on that list," Kearney said.
"I was well aware of how well he was playing over here and it was going to be a tough decision, because we had Benji Marshall, Kieran Foran, Isaac Luke, Thomas Leuluai and Shaun Johnson before he got injured."
But even though Chase was under consideration for selection, Kearney says the former Wests Tigers half-back was likely to just miss out on the final squad anyway.
"We have a lot of good halves and a lot of them I have worked with and had success with," he added.
"It was unfortunate, because of those players, that Rangi missed out. But he has chosen to play for England and I wish him all the best
Chase's decision to throw his lot in with Steve McNamara's England proved highly controversial, but former New Zealand international Kearney has no problem with players representing countries they were not born in.
He said: "Rangi feels this is his best pathway to play international footy. That's his decision. We have guys in our team born in Australia but have an affiliation (with New Zealand).
"Our World Cup-winning captain (Nathan Cayless) was born in Australia but he thought he was a New Zealander because that's where his mum's roots were. It's up to the individual."