With his love of Harley-Davidsons and his Hells Angels appearance, there is little other than his Australian accent to suggest that Castleford's Ryan McGoldrick is not American. Known throughout the game for his heavily-tattooed body and his fondness of travelling on two wheels, the Queensland-born 30-year-old gives a look that is more Brooklyn than Bondi but, thanks to his American grandmother, he boasts a United States national team shirt to match the image.
For while all eyes have been on the current Four Nations tournament, McGoldrick has been away with the US side, battling it out with a number of other emerging nations for the right to join the big hitters when the World Cup lands on British shores in 2013. And, after a 40-4 win over Jamaica in Philadelphia 10 days ago, the States booked their place at the tournament for the first time, with McGoldrick warning the rest of the world: "The Tomahawks are rising!".
Heartbreaking defeats to Lebanon and Samoa stopped America reaching the 2000 and 2008 tournaments but, it has proved to be third time lucky for the States and their tireless chief executive David Niu, a former Bramley and Bradford player, who has dedicated the last 15 years of his life to getting the sport off the ground in America.
Niu, who also played for America in the 1999 Rugby Union World Cup, installed Matthew Elliott as his coach and wins under his guidance against South Africa and Jamaica ensured that 'The Star-Spangled Banner' will be heard at the Rugby League World Cup for the first time. And McGoldrick, one of the ex-pats called upon by Elliott to add experience to a raw bunch of homegrown talents, is beaming with pride at his adopted country's achievements. "It was unreal to be there and be a part of what happened," he told Press Association Sport. "I played for them in 2007 against Samoa, at a time when the standard of our play was like what you would see on a park. Samoa really duffed us up. "I found myself thinking 'what have I let myself in for?' but the improvement since then has been massive. "Matthew Elliott was unreal. He has coached in the NRL and all the young USA guys that are coming through were just absorbing everything he was telling them."
The win put the seal on 15 years of development work in the country, and was partly inspired by former captain Jeff Preston, almost as big a rugby league name in the country as Niu. In typical American style he gave the players a hair-raising address before the game, as part of a build-up that saw the squad head into the local community to try and generate interest. "There are so many people to be pleased for and Jeff Preston is one of them," McGoldrick added. "They call him 'Captain America' and to have this ex-Army guy giving a speech with tears rolling down his face was incredible. "It shows how much it means to people over there. Before the game we went out giving out free tickets, and even ran up the 'Rocky Steps' in our team tracksuits. "We had people coming up for photos just because we were representing America, even though a lot of them didn't know what rugby league was. But we gave them tickets and, when we won, a lot of those people were on the field celebrating with us."
The United States will line-up alongside Wales and the Cook Islands in the group stages of the tournament, now under two years away, and McGoldrick expects their quality to take a few people by surprise. "Thanks to what the likes of David Niu have done, we now have players that NRL teams have looked at and I know a lot of them could do well in Super League and over here," he said. "They watch the NRL games on TV and I know they watch the Super League on the internet. They are trying to sort out a TV deal for their domestic competition and if they get that it will really kick things on. The Tomahawks are rising!"