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Aussie RL duo respond over English call-up

NZN 26/04/2017 Steve Zemek and Mitchell Van Homrigh

English ring-ins Chris Heighington and Chris McQueen have taken swipes at their critics over their controversial calls to pledge allegiance to the mother country.

Australian-born and based players Heighington and McQueen have been pilloried on both sides of the pond after being selected in Wayne Bennett's 20-man squad to take on Samoa next month.

Gold Coast utility McQueen revealed his Queensland State of Origin dumping was the catalyst behind his decision to seek English Test selection.

McQueen said he still had a desire to play representative football and realised the writing was on the wall when he was left out of the Queensland Origin team for a second straight series last year.

"All the suspensions and injuries around Origin last year gave me the realisation that the ship has sailed on representing Queensland and it was time to explore new options," McQueen said.

The Gold Coast Titans utility grew up in Kingaroy and represented Queensland six times in 2013 and 2014.

Like Heighington, McQueen has an English father and was encouraged by his family to seek selection in Bennett's team.

"The thing that really hit home was how proud my dad was when I told him I was going to be playing for England," McQueen said.

"I'd be surprised if he doesn't have a tear in his eye when I run out next weekend."

English media are questioning whether McQueen is in the country's top 20 best players.

Cronulla veteran Heighington hit back at Australian coach Mal Mengina's suggestion he was only in the squad because of a lack of depth in the English Super League.

"I watch a bit of the Super League and they've got some real good players getting around," Heighington said.

"Wayne's picked me for a reason and I'm just going to go out and play well for them, I don't think it's a depth issue.

"Every country's doing it. There's probably a few (players born in other countries) in the Australian team. I'm not sure why we get the criticism we do."

Heighington previously represented England in 2011 despite having played for NSW Country in 2008 and 2011.

He was heckled by Sharks teammates about whether he knew the English national anthem at training on Tuesday and said it would be a proud moment to pull on the red and white jersey.

"My dad is English, so it does say that I'm English," he said.

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