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House of Payne: Kohn makes opportunist strike
12:00am Saturday 19th January 2013 in Sport
Olly Kohn showed some giant opportunism this week by throwing his name forward for a Wales call-up, writes John Payne.
The Harlequins lock was born in Bristol, from where it now costs a fairly shocking £6.20 to cross the Severn Bridge into the Land of My Fathers, and his entire rugby career has been spent this side of the border with him home town club and Plymouth Albion, before moving to the Stoop in 2006.
But, fresh from signing a new contract with Harlequins, Kohn this week talked up his Welsh roots (his late grandfather was from the Rhymney Valley) and his international loyalties (“If Wales are playing I’ll always watch them, and support them as well”).
At the age of 31, Kohn has probably quite justifiably reasoned that his chances of playing for England have probably gone, despite the fact that he is a regular starter for the Premiership champions.
With the Welsh in the midst of a remarkable injury crisis that has left Luke Charteris, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Ryan Jones and Ian Evans on the sidelines, there may just have been a window of opportunity for Kohn to earn a call-up.
The Grand Slam champions’ success in recent years having been under the inspiration of a New Zealander, in head coach Warren Gatland, backed by an Englishman, Shaun Edwards, so it would be a bit rich for the Welsh to let something like a place of birth get in their way of their selection policy.
And like any successful businessman Kohn, who runs the the Jolly Hog and Sausage Company with his two brothers, will know that to sell a product, people need to know about it.
So he was perfectly within his rights to highlight, in an interview with BBC Wales, he was eligible to represent the country of his grandfather’s birth.
Unfortunately for Kohn, when it came to naming the 35-man Welsh squad, Wales looked rather closer to home, picking Ospreys’ James King and Dragons’ Andrew Coombs.
But, in the same way as Wimbledon footballer Vinnie Jones made nine appearances for the Dragons in the 1990s, nobody either side of the border should begrudge Kohn’s attempts to play his sport at the highest possible level.