Rugby League Expert & Columnist
Phil Clarke: Should Denny Solomona be picked by England?
Last Updated: 11/08/16 8:16pm
Castleford winger Denny Solomona is the top try scorer in the First Utility Super League with 28 tries in 21 matches.
He has made almost twice as many breaks as any other player in the competition and ranks inside the top 10 for outside backs when it comes to making metres.
So, it was inevitable that at some point this season people would begin to debate whether or not he is an 'international class' player.
That debate started last Friday night when my colleagues began to discuss whether or not he would get selected by England coach Wayne Bennett this autumn.
At 22 years of age Solomona has an exciting career ahead of him. It is amazing when you think that he has scored 48 times in just 37 games for the Tigers. But where did he come from?
I understand and appreciate that some people think a player should represent the country from where he was born, but International sport doesn't work like that anymore.
Solomona was born in Auckland and played rugby union in his early days before moving to Melbourne and attempting to get into their NRL team. He then took up the offer of a place with the London Broncos for the 2014 season before moving north to join the Tigers last year.
Some people would immediately say, 'Oh well, he's a Kiwi, we will have to dismiss him from our list of potential players'.
Others would ask, 'What date did he arrive in the country? Has he been here for three years yet?'
International eligibility rules in sport are a complicated subject but it might not be long before Solomona qualifies on residency grounds should he want to play for England.
I am writing this article with no knowledge of the player's desires but simply to raise the issue before the England squad is names in a few weeks' time.
I understand and appreciate that some people think a player should represent the country from where he was born, but international sport doesn't work like that anymore.
If Sam Burgess were to have a son born in Australia who turned out to be one of the best in the world, would English fans feel happy if he played for England and helped them to beat Australia?
One of the most fascinating examples of this subject is the Qatari handball team. They are currently at the Olympic Games and stand a good chance of collecting a medal. Interestingly, the team is made of men from Cuba, Spain, France, Syria and the Balkan countries.
The rules for eligibility are quite lax but it's effectively a team of world all stars who have been recruited to play for Qatar. It is a small country in terms of population, there are more people living in Manchester, but they have got money and a desire to gain some global recognition via sporting success.
Allegedly, Qatar even paid for some supporters to travel from Spain to cheer for the team at last year's World Championship. They apparently paid for all travel, accommodation and food! Perhaps they should become your second favourite team!
We all have to accept that life changes and things move on. If a player qualifies to be selected under the rules agreed by the governing body then you need to accept that fact.
I know that some people don't like this fact but it's a bit like the people who become disgruntled when a sport shifted from being amateur to professional.
I have thought about this long and hard and I have come to the conclusion that whoever Bennett selects, I'll still be there giving my support.