Chase ready to prove credentials
Rangi Chase is delighted to get another chance to silence his critics and consolidate his place in the England team.
Twelve months on from producing a man-of-the-match performance to help the Exiles defeat England 12-6 at Leeds, the New Zealand-born half-back is firmly in the opposite camp going into the first of two Origin clashes at Langtree Park on Saturday.
Chase, who switched his allegiance in time for the 2011 Four Nations Series, has been paired with Leeds stand-off Kevin Sinfield for the sixth consecutive match after England coach Steve McNamara opted to ignore the claims of Huddersfield half-back Danny Brough.
"I feel like I've been here for years," said Chase at the England training camp in Loughborough. "It's an awesome set-up."
If Castleford's reigning Man of Steel had hoped his encouraging Four Nations displays had won over the sceptics, he would have been dismayed by recent comments from Huddersfield's Australian coach Nathan Brown which re-ignited the debate over his eligibility.
"If a duck quacks, it's a duck, it's not a cow," said Brown, insisting the former Maori international ought not to be wearing the red, white and blue.
But Chase has taken the criticism, as well as ribbing from his Castleford team-mates, in good heart while re-iterating his desire to play for his adopted nation, especially after his fiancee Libby recently gave birth to their son Tahi.
"All the boys were giving it to me about if a duck quacks," he said. "I know Browny quite well and I actually texted him saying that I'm not bothered about it.
"Look at the New Zealand team, look at the Australian team! They pick the best, who they think can do the job, whether they are born in Australia or New Zealand or not. If they do it, why can't everyone do it?
"I think I've got a good reason why I should be playing. My little boy is English and my fiancee is English. That doesn't make me English, I'm not saying that, but this is home for me now.
"I don't have the same accent but, no matter what happens, I'll be living here after my career has finished."
McNamara today confirmed that Wigan winger Josh Charnley and Leeds centre Carl Ablett will make their international debuts, with another new face, Wigan prop forward Lee Mossop, on the bench.
Charnley, Stobart Super League's leading try-scorer with 22 touchdowns so far this season, replaces Hull's Tom Briscoe, while Ablett got the nod ahead of Huddersfield centre Leroy Cudjoe.
There are recalls for Warrington centre Ryan Atkins and Wigan forward Gareth Hock.
The line-up contains just six players from the side beaten in last year's inaugural Origin clash, while the Exiles have eight survivors, including Huddersfield's former Kiwi international David Fa'alogo, who was called up following a spate of withdrawals.
Exiles coach Daniel Anderson has paired Thomas Leuluai and Scott Dureau at half-back following the withdrawal of Brett Finch and chosen St Helens' utility player Lance Hohaia at hooker.
"It's a good team," said the former St Helens coach. "It's been difficult with injuries making players unavailable but we've settled on this squad and they've come together really well."
The loss of Finch is a blow but Chase is expecting the Exiles to present another stern challenge.
"They're always going to be strong," he said. "I've been on that side and I know what happens when they come together. They enjoy each other's company and want to win for each other.
"I know no matter what team they put out, they'll have a good dig so it's going to be a good game for us. I think we'll enjoy the challenge."
England: S Tomkins (Wigan); J Charnley (Wigan), C Ablett (Leeds), R Atkins (Warrington), R Hall (Leeds); K Sinfield (Leeds), R Chase (Castleford); E Crabtree (Huddersfield), J Roby (St Helens), J Peacock (Leeds, capt), G Hock (Wigan), D Tickle (Hull), S O'Loughlin (Wigan).
Replacements: R Burrow (Leeds), G Carvell (Warrington), L Mossop (Wigan), J Jones-Buchanan (Leeds).
Exiles: B Hodgson (Warrington, capt); J Monaghan (Warrington), S Sa (Catalan), D Millard (Catalan), F Meli (St Helens); T Leuluai (Wigan), S Dureau (Catalan); T Puletua (St Helens), L Hohaia (St Helens), J Lima (Wigan), W Manu (Hull), S Soliola (St Helens), T Waterhouse (Warrington).
Replacements (from): A Laffranchi (St Helens), A Kaufusi (London), D Fa'alogo (Huddersfield), D Faiumu (Huddersfield), E Lauaki (Wigan).