Castleford star ‘shocked’ at England senior squad call-up

Oliver Holmes.
Oliver Holmes.

Back rower Oliver Holmes admitted to being surprised to get the call to be promoted from the England Knights to the senior international squad this week.

The Castleford Tigers player was one of six players called up from the Knights for tonight’s international against France to cover for England players who were involved in last Saturday’s Super League Grand Final.

“It was a bit of a shock, I didn’t really expect the call,” said Holmes.

“I got it when I was in the middle of a gig in Leeds on Thursday so it was a bit like a Trigger Happy TV moment on the phone to Jamie Peacock. But it’s something every kid dreams of .”

The six additions will return to Knights duty where they will fly out to take on Papua New Guinea, but Holmes is pleased to have been given the chance to train with the senior squad.

He said: “Wayne (Bennett, England’s coach) will have been looking at the Knights and speaking to (Knights boss) Paul Anderson about how everyone’s getting on, but he gets a first hand look at us now so it’s a bit of a fresh opportunity.

“Knowing a couple of the boys who’ve jumped up from the Knights for this game has been handy. There’s some people I know in the England squad, like Adam Milner from back at Cas and that has made the transition that bit easier.

“The first session with the squad definitely helped. It was a bit of a physical session and you get an idea of where you’re at physically and mentally.

“Obviously it was a little bit different, I’ve never trained with an England team before so it was new to me, but it has been good.”

The England Knights squad has been revived for the first time in five years to help prepare and develop players for the next two World Cups and Holmes is fully in support of the idea.

He added: “It’s massive. If you look at previous England ‘A’ and Knights squads that have been and gone you can see that players have progressed through that pathway.

“It is a young squad so there’s plenty of room for improvement and I think it is going to be a massive experience having a tour to the other side of the world.

“Hopefully that stands everybody in good stead moving forward.”