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Pledging allegiance to England over Fiji was down to money - Nathan Hughes

Published 14/11/2016

Nathan Hughes, centre, said his decision to play for England is to support his family
Nathan Hughes, centre, said his decision to play for England is to support his family

Nathan Hughes admits his decision to pledge national allegiance to England was motivated by the financial rewards on offer.

Fijian-born Hughes became available for the Grand Slam champions in June after qualifying on residency grounds and made his debut off the bench in Saturday's 37-21 victory over South Africa.

Members of the Fiji squad who will run out at Twickenham this weekend are paid a mere £60 a day, a sum dwarfed by the £22,000 England players receive for each international.

The figures involved have resulted in Hughes adopting a hard-nosed professional outlook on rugby knowing that he must provide for his family.

"I would love for Fiji to have more resources, but it is the way it is. They just have to deal with it and live on whatever they have got," Hughes said.

"There is a big difference and that is why people want to play rugby and how they survive.

"It is their bread and butter. That's the decision I made - I play my rugby to support my family and put shelter over their heads.

"Back home it has all been positive comments, everyone happy and proud of the decision I have made. Last week was exciting for me and my family."

Despite the financial basis for his decision to represent England, Hughes insists the 26 minutes he played against South Africa were not without poignancy as he celebrated a proud moment in his career.

"I feel English now. I can say I'm an English person now. It was exciting to get the nod to come off the bench and represent England, I can say it's my country now," Hughes said.

"It was huge and it was emotional. I live here in England, it is where my family is now. This is home for me.

"I will not sing both anthems, I'll only be singing the national anthem, God Save the Queen.

"It has been a long time coming but now the time is here, I've got my first cap and I'm excited to get more."

Hughes, an explosive number eight bristling with raw potential, is set to start in the back row against the nation of his birth on Saturday and realises that this guarantees special treatment at Twickenham.

"I do understand it. If you're an Islander, and I have this opportunity to play against Fiji, you know what is coming. You take it and you have got to give it back. They'll know it's coming too," he said.

"It will be very special to make this first start against Fiji, but we've got a lot of class back-rowers in the squad, waiting for the opportunity. You just have to train well and when you get an opportunity, take it with both hands."

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