Newton is so proud to be sporting star-spangled banner

IT HAS taken Clint Newton almost an entire career to finally appear for the USA but he is certainly making up for lost time.

USA's Clint Newton runs in for a try.

For all those who saw the second-row during a superb four years at Hull KR, they will know he has a distinct Australian accent and made his name in the NRL.

But Newton is, indeed, American and not just by any tenuous link.

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He was actually born there in 1981 while his famous father Jack was playing golf tournaments.

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“We were based in South Carolina when he was on the US Tour and it just happened to fall like that,” explained Newton, as World Cup surprise package USA prepare to face Australia in tomorrow’s World Cup quarter-final in Wrexham.

“We continued to stay there on and off for two years prior to his accident (in 1983, Jack Newton tragically lost an arm and an eye after walking into the propeller of a light aircraft in Sydney).

“I’ve always been a proud American. I’ve copped plenty over the years for having three passports – my mum’s English and from Dulwich – but I’m proud to represent USA and lead them in their first World Cup.

“Actually playing for them, though, has been about 13 years in the making. I don’t know why.

“Every year I was either suspended or injured needing surgery and my club held precedence over whether I was able to play or not.

“This year, I was glad to get through the season unscathed and be able to come and play for America and, hopefully, do the jersey proud.”

Newton, 32, debuted in their surprise opening win over Cook Islands and scored in the victory against Wales which saw the newcomers manage to top Group D and set up a previously unthinkable last eight tie with the mighty Kangaroos.

America, who lost their final group game 22-8 to Scotland, were 1,000-1 to win the tournament and not much better fancied to secure a single victory.

Even Newton, right, who rejoins Newcastle Knights from Penrith Panthers when he returns to Australia, has been stunned by their epic journey.

“I couldn’t ever imagine this would happen,” he said. “I’m not saying I didn’t rate our side, I just had no expectations and literally no idea how we’d perform.

“I had a limited knowledge about the players we have in our side but I’m extremely proud of how we’ve performed in this tournament. Now we get the chance to take on the No 1 ranked team in the world.

“For a lot of these guys who have full-time jobs outside of football they’ve taken time off work to come away. We don’t get any money while we’re here. The only money we’ve got has come from prize money now we’ve progressed through but we’ve donated a fair lump back to the American RL. We’ve had a couple of days off to regroup and we’ll be up for the Australian game.

“By no means will I ever say we’ll beat them but I just hope we put in a spirited performance as individuals and let the cards fall how they will.”

Facing so many of his peers from the NRL is a prospect the 32-year-old is relishing, too.

A former Junior Kangaroo, Newton said; “For me, this will sit right up there with the Grand Final (Melbourne Storm’s win in 2007) especially with everything the squad, the country and American Rugby League has gone through to get to this point.”

Tomahawks back-row Mark Cantoni, 34, makes his World Cup debut – remarkably just one month after breaking an arm in the friendly win over France.

He is on annual leave from his surveying job in Queensland.