League player turns American
By MITCHELL DALE
FORMER Coffs Harbour Comet Brandon Costin is about as American as eating a Vegemite sandwich, while sitting in a Torana at Uluru.
But Costin's lack of a Yankee accent hasn't stopped the Amercian rugby league from selecting the 32-year-old for this month's historic international against Australia.
Costin has never visited America, let alone played in the country's fledging rugby league competition.
But the former NRL and British Super League star qualifies to play for the Tomahawks by virtue of having an American grandfather.
Costin admits the phone call from America's National Rugby League boss, David Niu, came out of the blue.
"I was pretty surprised by it actually," he said.
"I've always known I have American parentage, but it was never something I thought much about and I never considered playing for America.
"America always wanted to use its home-grown talent, but they just couldn't get anywhere because other (rugby league minnow) countries like Lebanon were using Australian-based players.
"When they asked if I was interested, I thought it sounded good."
America has named three Australasian ring-ins to boost its side in the inaugural match against the Kangaroos, with Costin joined by Widnes pair Shane Millard and Julian O'Neill (the New Zealand prop, not the Australian bad boy).
But Costin is under no illusions when it comes to the Tomahawks' chances.
"I think it will be good fun," he said. We're not out there to prove ourselves against the Kangaroos, like someone playing for Great Britain against Australia would be.
"That is not what the game is about, we are looking at it as a small step for the game in America. "Hopefully we (the experienced ring-ins) can help some of the young American players out."
The former John Paul College student this year finished a four-year playing stint in England, where he played with Huddersfield Giants and Bradford Bulls, winning the World club championship with the latter in 2002.
He will move to Brisbane next year to study sport science at QUT and has signed a two-year deal with 2004 Queensland Cup runners-up Easts Tigers.
Once armed with a degree, Costin plans on returning to rugby league as a fitness coordinator. That is where his cameo appearance for the Tomahawks could come in handy.
"If we can help improve the game over there, it could open up another rugby league market," he said.
"If I stay in touch with them, it could be another avenue for me, because they will need experienced and educated people."