New Zealand-born Rangi Chase has discovered some English heritage which he hopes will finally end the debate over his controversial selection for England.
The 2011 Super League Man of Steel caused a stir two years ago when he switched allegiance, having played against England both for New Zealand Maori and the Exiles in the previous 12 months.
But the Castleford stand-off, who is moving to Salford next season, qualified for England on residential grounds and, after delving through his family tree, has now found roots in this country which he believes strengthens his links with the team.
“Over the last couple of months I’ve done my family tree,” Chase told EnglandTV in South Africa, where he is training with Steve McNamara’s squad in preparation for the World Cup.
“I’ve got my own personal reasons why I play for England. But the name Chase is from England. One of my aunties has given me my family tree and it actually comes from England.
“So, in a way, I’ve got that English blood in me. It might only be a little bit but it’s in there and it’s a big honour.
“Even before then, it was a big honour but it makes a bit more special to I know that I’m linked, I’m tied, I’ve got a bit of English blood in me. It means a lot to me. I’m passionate about where I come from and my ancestors.”
The 27-year-old Chase is hoping his discovery will finally win over the sceptics but accepts he may never be able to please everyone.
“There is always going to be doubt and people are entitled to their own opinions,” he added. “But I’ve got my own reasons why I’m here and, like I’ve just explained, it makes it extra special because the name Chase is an English name.
“I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe I should be here and I’m grateful for that.”
Chase has been the regular half-back partner for skipper Kevin Sinfield over the last two seasons and is hoping to win his eighth cap in the World Cup opener against Australia in Cardiff on October 26.
However, he is facing competition from Leeds’ Rob Burrow and Melbourne Storm’s Halifax-born Gareth Widdop and is not taking his spot for granted.
“I’m not too sure if I’m going to be there, to be honest,” he said. “That’s why I’m training hard and doing everything I can to put my foot in the door and get that spot.
“We’ve got a lot of depth and that’s the beauty about it.”
Sam Burgess is looking forward to making up for lost time with England as he steps up his preparations for the World Cup.
The former Bradford forward, who is currently training with England at a high-altitude camp in South Africa, has missed the last two international tournaments through injury but is fit and raring to go ahead of the opening game against Australia on October 26.
“It’s always a great honour to play for this country,” said the South Sydney prop, who won the last of his 11 caps against Papua New Guinea in the 2010 Four Nations Series.
“It’s been two or three years now, so I’m looking forward to getting back into it.
“We’ve been in South Africa for a week now and the boys are coming together nicely.
“We’ve good weather and the experience has been fantastic so far.
“You can see the RFL have really got behind the team with their investment in this and things like sports science and it’s giving us the best chance to go and do the job on the weekend.”