Nathan Ross
22/09/2011 3:37:26 PM

Wests Tigers workhorse, Chris Heighington believes that he is ready to make the step up to International football if given the opportunity in this year’s Four Nations tournament starting in late October.

It was announced earlier this week that the Wests Tiger back rower had been selected in England’s train on squad which puts him one step closer to making his International debut.

And the 28 year old feels ready for that opportunity should it come.

“I’ve played close to 200 games now and had nine years in first grade. I just feel I’m ready to step up and have a crack at the International side of things.

“I’m happy with my form this year and feel that I’ve been pretty consistent. My aim was to be consistent week in week out and I think I have done that.

“Playing with the likes of Robbie Farah, Rob Lui, Benji and a consistently strong forward pack also helps. If everyone plays well within the team, you seem to reap the rewards yourself.”

Despite being one of the NRL’s form back rowers over the past few seasons, Heighington has not been in the thoughts or minds of NSW and Australian selectors but England coach Steve McNamara had his own views.

Through his father and grandfather, who are both from Durham, Heighington is qualified to represent England.

Heighington recalled how it all came about.

“I met with Steve (McNamara) over a year ago. He was honest and said that he really wanted me to be in the system.

“We met a couple more times since then, exchanged emails, phone calls etc and I could see that he really wanted me in his squad.

“I’m extremely proud of where my granddad and father come from so I thought that I should give it a shot. I’ve also got other family members still in the UK so I’m really excited about getting back over there.”

It all looked like it would become a reality when the pair spoke on the phone just over a month ago.

“I spoke with Steve a while back and he said that if I maintained my form, I’d definitely be selected.

“I want to represent at the highest level and really test myself so getting this opportunity makes me and my family extremely proud.”

Heighington leaves for the UK on 4 October to join his England team mates. The final squad will be announced a few days after the English Super League Grand Final, scheduled for 8 October.

England will play in a friendly against France on 21 October before their first match of the tournament v Wales on 29 October.

At some stage during his stay, Chris will pay a visit to the Heighington village where his father grew up. Heighington is located in the borough of Darlington, County Durham.

“I will definitely go there to spend some time and get a photo for sure. It will be an interesting journey getting there when I don’t really know my way around”, he chuckled.

Good on Heighno for taking this opportunity, I hope it works for him, all the best.

Hope he kills it.

Will make Umina really proud.

Can see Rhino in the English top 17
Good luck and play well

Hope he gets a run. Love watching the WT boys playing international games for any country, the more the better! Go Heighno!

Heighno and Ellis for the Poms, Benji captain of the Kiwis and Galloway, Farah, Lawrence and Woods selected for the Aussie squad…we seem to complain that our boys don’t get a look in sometimes but we have a very culturally diverse team and 7 boys in the international scene is not a bloody bad effort. Add the vice captain of the kiwis in Blair to round it to 8 from 13 starters…basically an international pack…that is of course if Heighno is even starting for us next year.

Sorry already been stated in the 4-nations thread!

Ancestral village highlights Heighington’s English allegiance
Daniel Lane
September 25, 2011

WESTS TIGERS second-rower Chris Heighington carries one of the reasons he pledged his allegiance to England’s national team on his mobile phone - a photograph of an ornate village signpost in that country’s north-east.

The village of Heighington, outside Durham, holds special significance for the 28-year-old because, apart from its name, his father Tom and late grandfather Arthur lived there. He uses the image to explain the sense of heritage which influenced his decision to those who question why he embraced the so-called ‘‘old enemy’’, including former English international Garry Schofield who was unhappy having an Australian in the train-on squad.

‘‘The fact is my father’s family is from a little village outside of Durham, so I’m classed as English,’’ he told The Sun-Herald. ''I have an English passport and I don’t see my decision as an issue. Other countries are doing the same thing [picking Australian-born and raised players] so it’s in the rules. However, you also need to do this for the right reason.

‘‘You need to have the drive … desire … to play for England - and I do. I’ve thought about it and that’s what I’ve got. I wouldn’t like to see everyone doing it just to play international footy, I’m passionate to play for where my family comes from. It’s in my blood. There’s that little Heighington village … and I’ll be honouring my grandfather, too.’’

Schofield welcomed Brisbane centre Jack Reed’s decision to fly the English flag but wasn’t so welcoming of Heighington - even though many considered him, as one of the NRL’s most consistent forwards, to be unlucky to not have attained a NSW or Australian jersey. ‘‘Heighington’s selection is a joke,’’ Schofield said on Twitter. ‘‘Not born here, not played here, never been here. Rules might allow it but rules are a joke as we all know. Don’t mind Jack Reed though. He was born & bred here. But according to [England coach Steve McNamara] in League Express he’ll pick whoever he can within rules. The thought of the English dressing room full of Aussie accents, which could be the case in a few years, is depressing.’’

Heighington vowed to silence anyone who’d knocked his decision by giving his all if he was called upon for the Four Nations tournament. ‘‘That doesn’t bother me personally, I’m sure there is going to be a bit of that,’’ he said of Schofield’s spray. ‘‘Hopefully I get the chance to prove them wrong. I’ll work hard and train hard to try and get a position in the team. My father is very happy with my decision, he’s pretty proud, because he hasn’t got being English out of his blood … my grandfather passed away not so long ago and he was also keen on the idea.’’

Heighington did everything within his power to represent Australia, however, his meeting with McNamara and appreciation of his English heritage helped him make the call.

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