Castleford Tigers forward Mike McMeeken has spoken of his pride in being called up by England to play in the Rugby League World Cup.
The Basingstoke-born back rower is one of only two Tigers players to have been selected by head coach Wayne Bennett and is aiming to make the most of his opportunity after making his England debut this summer against Samoa.
He said: “It’s a massive honour to be in the squad and I’m really looking forward to it.
“Going to Samoa earlier in the year was a massive learning curve for me. It was a big experience and I took a lot from it.
“I’m looking forward to linking with the boys in Aus and improving my game even more.
“It’s always been my aim to reach the international stage and now I am there I want to prove myself.
“I am not counting on just staying in the squad. I want to be pushing for a starting place and making sure I improve my game as I have done over the last few years.
“It’s every Englishman’s dream to be representing their country and to be doing it at the biggest stage at the World Cup is a huge honour.”
McMeeken heard about his call-up while he was at the Tigers homecoming event at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
He explained: “I was at the fan day and just finished doing some signing when I found out I had a call from JP (Jamie Peacock). It’s a great feeling to get that.
“I was a bit shocked, but at the same time I was massively honoured to potentially be given the opportunity to put on that England shirt again.”
McMeeken is surprised that only one club-mate, Luke Gale, is with him in the England squad despite the outstanding season for so many of the Tigers players.
He added: “I think there will be some disappointment there. There were some players in our team who could be in this squad, but it’s going to make them hungry for selection next year.
“Looking back at Old Trafford it was a disappointing performance by us, but looking back over the year it’s been successful and it’s been one that’s going to go down in Cas history.”