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Brett Sinkinson
"Graham (Henry) just asked me if I had any Welsh blood"
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Wednesday, 22 March, 2000, 13:50 GMT
Sinkinson: I'm not eligible for Wales

Sinkinson has discovered he has English ancestry
Brett Sinkinson has admitted he may not be qualified to play for Wales - but he insists he never knowingly breached rugby's eligibility rules.

The New Zealand-born flanker has revealed his grandfather Sydney was born in Oldham in England, rather than Carmarthen in west Wales, as had been indicated.

But Sinkinson believes he still has a future with Wales, because he could qualify on the basis of residency next year.

The 29-year-old Neath star has been left out of the Welsh team - along with another New Zealand-born player, full-back Shane Howarth - following allegations that they did not pass the qualification criteria.

Graham Henry: Brought in Kiwi players
Sinkinson has now spoken out for the first time since the eligibility row erupted and plunged the Welsh game into crisis.

"I never set out to deceive anyone," he told BBC Wales. "My father always believed his father came from Wales and I acted on that basis when I told the Welsh Rugby Union I was eligible. It is still a bit unclear.

"My grandfather was not registered for a month or so after his birth, which maybe caused confusion. But a birth certificate has been produced which says he was born in Oldham."

Sinkinson also defended coach Graham Henry, who played a major role in the recruitment of leading players from the Southern Hemisphere and has been a target for much recent criticism.

"Graham Henry did not tell me to say something I wasn't," added Sinkinson.

"Maybe mistakes were made but I don't think it is fair to only blame Graham. It must not just be his fault. Other people were involved.

"This whole business has been just about the worst thing to have happened to me, but no-one can take away what I went through with Wales.

"I was proud to represent the country and did my best for them. Playing for Wales was the highlight of my life.

"I have still not given up hope of appearing for them again.

"If the IRB don't change the rules, I qualify next year on resident's grounds, and who knows what will happen in the WRU's investigation."

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Links to other Rugby Union stories are at the foot of the page.