Great Britain should consider Australian born Scottish internationals for selection

02 March 2019 - Written by Zack Wilson

Although we are yet to hear that the Great Britain Lions tour to the Pacific has been confirmed, talk has already turned to just who will be selected for the squad.

Reports have suggested that players from the Celtic countries of Scotland, Wales and Ireland are in the frame for selection.

Former Scotland coach Steve McCormack, who called on players like St Helens fullback Lachlan Coote for his Bravehearts squads, thinks that the GB selectors would be foolish not to consider the merits of Aussie-born Scottish internationals.

St George-Illawarra Dragons centre Euan Aitken is another player who might find himself in the framce.

“Our Australian-based players like Lachlan (Coote), Euan (Aitken) and Kane Linnett are all outstanding individuals and showed a massive commitment to Scotland," said McCormack, according to Wigan Today.

"If they’re eligible and play well, they should be considered. When they came over to play for us, they got pocket money.

"They were away from their families for five weeks, they sacrificed holidays, weddings, operations, all sorts – and they all performed at the top level."

In the modern world, nationality and identity are much more fluid and complex than in days gone by, especially for professional international athletes, who tend to live some of the more cosmopolitan lifestyles on the planet.

While traditionalists may balk at the idea of selecting players who were not born in the British Isles or Ireland, other Great Britain teams in other sports routinely select people who were not born on these shores.

One interesting thing to consider, though, is whether playing for Great Britain counts as playing for a Tier One country, and how that might affect players’ future eligibility for other countries.

The idea behind allowing players to be eligible for both a Tier One and Tier Two country was intended, despite platitudes about strengthening the international game, to allow Australia to retain its dominant position.

It meant that Australian-born players could play for their ethnic homelands as Tier Two nations, but then return to playing for the Kangaroos if they developed into world-class players.

Tyson Frizell is one player from a British context who did this – playing for Wales before opting back to the nation of his birth.

Of course, the concept has been upended by those Tongan players who opted to play for Tonga over the Kangaroos and the Kiwis.

Lachlan Coote and Euan Aitken might want to have left their options open for Australia, although, to be fair, they are a long way down the pecking order when it comes to green and gold selection.

But that does not mean they will be the last players to potentially face this choice, and it is an issue that needs to be considered when it comes to the already complex eligibility rules.

But, in principle, anyone who has played for England, Scotland, Ireland or Wales should be eligible for Great Britain too.

Australian-born Celts might not be popular selections with some section of the British rugby league public, but it would be silly to ignore their claims.

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