Dom Young's dazzling Rugby League World Cup displays can inspire more NRL stars to channel their ‘heritage’ and help guide England to global glory, reckons Martin Offiah.
The Wakefield-born winger announced himself on the world stage with two tries in England’s opening game against Samoa before then suffering an agonising golden point defeat against the same opponents in the semi-finals.
And Offiah, who scored over 500 tries across a decorated rugby league career, believes Newcastle Knights’ Young, bolstered by fellow Australia-based but English-qualifying stars Victor Radley and Herbie Farnworth, is blazing a trail for the next generation.
The 56-year-old said: "I think that Dom Young has risen to great international prominence this World Cup.
"His name might not have known in this country before, but it is now. He has English heritage and sought to play for us.
“And then you've got the likes of Victor Radley and Herbie Farnworth who have done the same after growing up in Australia.
“Hopefully in the future we will see some more young players of English heritage coming through from over there.
“With a stronger base in Australia in the NRL, that will only help England on their quest to win a World Cup."
Offiah, who starred for Wigan and Widnes throughout the 1980s and 1990s, visited Folly Lane ARLFC last week to witness the increased levels of interest in people wanting to play rugby league following the significant profile that the sport has enjoyed over the past five weeks.
Folly Lane are just one of the hundreds of communities that have benefitted from National Lottery RLWC21 CreatedBy funding, receiving £9,552 to help develop the sport.
Despite England's wheelchair team soaring to World Cup glory on Friday night, the men's and women's teams both missed out on final spots with narrow losses to Samoa and New Zealand.
Offiah was heartbroken by the men's semi-final as Shaun Wane's side fell to a last-gasp 27-26 defeat but was excited for the future of the game as more NRL players decide to represent their country of origin.
"I won't lie - it was a tough watch,” he added.
“England overcame so many obstacles in the game, starting so well in previous ones.
"They got off to a rocky start in that semi-final, with missed opportunities from Kallum Watkins and Tommy Makinson but we stuck in there and were tenacious.
“We survived an intercepted try and charged down Milford's first drop-goal but that's the thing about sport and that's why we love it: there's no guarantees.”
"We all know that you're affected by your environment and the NRL is tough, you can flourish over there and maybe find the international transition a little bit easier than stepping up from the Super League.
"We probably could have done with a few more NRL players, the Samoan team probably had about eight who played in the NRL Grand Final and that was the difference.
"In the years gone by, those Samoan players might have played for Australia but now people want to represent their countries of origin.
"And I actually think that makes for a much better competition."
The National Lottery are an Official Partner of the Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021). As part of this, they have provided financial support to clubs & communities across England through the RLWC2021 CreatedBy Grants Programme, contributing over £750,000.