Rugby League: Kohe-Love stays loyal to Kiwis

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The Independent Online
TOA KOHE-LOVE, the man John Kear wanted to select for England, has confirmed his refusal to switch his allegiance following a masterful performance for Warrington on Saturday.

The 22-year-old New Zealander, the Super League's top try-scorer, qualifies for England through his Hull-born mother and had been targeted by the England coach for the Tests against France.

Kear, the Sheffield coach, saw at first hand the power of the Kiwi as he ran in a hat-trick of tries for Warrington against his Eagles side in a 48-16 victory at the Don Valley Stadium.

Kear could be forgiven for having mixed emotions as Kohe-Love completely out-played Keith Senior, the current Great Britain centre, in destroying Sheffield with some devastating finishing to take his try tally to 22 in 22 Super League matches.

Kohe-Love, who joined Warrington in 1996, is unhappy about being classed as an overseas player, despite his mother's place of birth. "It's a bit of a strange situation," he said. "I'm on the import list and they want me to play for England. If they took me off the quota, I'd listen to what they have to say. But my heart is with New Zealand and I think I've got a good chance this year to make the side, especially with the Maoris. That has given me another chance to get into the World Cup and that's my aim.

"I wasn't born here so I don't think it's right for me to play for England. I don't really feel like I'm English."

Kohe-Love, who has two years left of his contract, has been a key figure in Warrington's unexpected challenge for a play-off spot in Super League.

The Wolves, locked in a three-way battle for fifth place with Castleford and Gateshead, kept up the pressure with an impressive show against a jaded Sheffield side clearly feeling the effects of playing a third match in seven days.

Kohe-Love's centre partner Jon Roper was another international prospect to catch the eye while scrum-half Lee Briers scored one try, had a hand in three others and punished the Eagles with some excellent tactical kicking.

Wigan insisted yesterday that the former Australian Test centre Steve Renouf will join them next season, despite his having broken his arm playing for Brisbane Broncos on Friday.

The Super League champions confirmed that the 29-year-old Renouf, who has agreed a two-year contract believed to be worth up to pounds 500,000, suffered a clean break during Brisbane's 22-4 win over St George-Illawarra. Peter Norbury, the Wigan chairman, said: "The injury is unfortunate but there's no reason to believe Steve won't be at Wigan on schedule."

Renouf, who has almost certainly played his last match for the Broncos, is due in Wigan in December.