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Jim Stynes And 8 Other Sportstars Who've Played Against Their Own Country

Conor O'Leary
By Conor O'Leary
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Nick Cummins

Nick Cummins returns to our consciousness this weekend as he is part of the Barbarians team that will take on his home country Australia in Twickenham on Saturday. He will be the first of another case of sportspeople playing against their home country in the next few weeks, with James McCarthy and Aiden McGeady set to face Scotland for the first time since swopping their international allegiances. Here is a look at eight other examples of sportsmen playing against their country of birth.

Chris Birchall (Trinidad & Tobago) v England, 2006.

Stafford-born Chris Birchall was called up to represent Trinidad & Tobago for their World Cup2006 qualifying campaign while he was still  playing for Port Vale. Birchall and Trinidad ended up qualifying for the World Cup finals, and were given a dream draw against Birchall's home country.

Richardt Strauss (Ireland) v South Africa, 2012


The first of Ireland's "project" player. Strauss made his debut against the country he grew up in. What made it more special for Strauss was that he lined up in direct hooking opposition to his cousin Adriaan. This game will probably go down in history as the only game where 4 of the 6 front rows in the game were all from the same secondary school, with Richardt, Adriaan, CJ van der Linde and Jannie du Plessis all from the famed Grey's college in Bleomfontein.

Eoin Morgan (England) v Ireland, 2013



Cricket's international eligibility rules are a little different, but after Clontarf born Morgan played well for Ireland in a couple of tests, England came calling. He ended up captaining the England one day side, and in September 2013, Morgan was nearly on the end of an unlikely Irish victory before he steadied the English ship and got them over the line.

Brad Thorn (Australia) v New Zealand, 1998

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Perhaps most known for his rugby union career with New Zealand, New Zealand born but Brisbane raised Thorn started out in Rugby League. He was selected for the Australian Rugby League team from 1995, and was an unused squad member when Australia beat New Zealand in the World Cup that year. Thorn finally got the chance to play against his home country in three tests in 1998. He then switched codes and ended up playing for New Zealand against Australia several times throughout his union career.


Ireland's Euro 88 team v England


There have been a long history of English born players with Irish grannies lining out for the boys in green, but how many can say they were on the winning side against their country of birth. Mick McCarthy, Chris Hughton, Chris Morris, John Alridge and Tony Galvin; not to mention manager Jack Charlton were all involved in beating the country that they were born in, in a result lives long in Irish folklore.

Kevin Prince Boateng (Ghana) v Germany, 2010



From being in direct competition with one's cousin, to one's brother, the Ghana v Germany match in the 2010 World Cup featured two Berlin born brothers. The only odd thing was that they were on opposite sides and ended up marking each other. Boateng decided in 2009 that he didn't want to represent Germany, stating that he felt more Ghanian. He received his Ghanian passport.

Quade Cooper (Australia) v New Zealand, 2011


Auckland- born Cooper moved to Brisbane as a 13 year old in 2001. He's a favourite target of the New Zealand media which came to a head in the Rugby World Cup in 2011 in Cooper's country of birth. Cooper was under intense scrutiny after alledgedly kneein Richie McCaw in the face in a Tri Nations game earlier in the year, and the mounting media pressure perhaps lead to his sub-par performances during what had been a promising year for Cooper.


Jim Stynes (Australia) v Ireland, 1987 and 1998


The legendary Irish born AFL player, Jim Stynes played 5 times for Australia in Aussie Rules against Ireland. The Bronlow medalist winner in1991 for best AFL player first represented Australia against his home country in 1987, before swopping sides three years later and playing for Ireland. He retired from AFL in 1998, with his last game being in the International Rules series against Ireland.

Doug Howlett, Jeremy Manning, Lifemi Mafi and Rua Tipoki (Munster) v New Zealand, 2008

Such is the enormity of playing the All Blacks, that when Munster beat a touring New Zealand side in 1978, a play was produced commemorating the achievement. In 2008, New Zealand started playing mid week matches on their European tour again, and a rematch against Munster was on the cards. For Doug Howlett, Rua Tipoki, Lifemi Mafi and Jeremy Manning it was a magical moment, and for those watching on, it will forever live in our memory. I'll let the video remind you of what happened ,but watch out for familiar faces former Ulster prop John Afoa and Connacht fullback Mils Muliana.



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