Walmsley aiming for international return

Alex Walmsley
Alex Walmsley

Alex Walmsley is hoping to produce the kind of form in a Saints’ shirt which will bring him to the attention of international coach Wayne Bennett and a place in England’s World Cup squad.

The prop forward admitted this week that he was disappointed at being omitted from the initial 31-strong elite performance group of players that Bennett has named to prepare for the end of season’s ultimate challenge which will be staged in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

The 14 team competition features the three hosts, plus England, Fiji, France, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Samoa, Scotland, Tonga, USA and Wales - and Walmsley wants to be part and parcel of the biggest and most prestigious event in the 13-a-side calendar.

The 26-year-old Dewsbury-born powerhouse forward said: ‘It’s the ultimate challenge for any rugby league player.’’

But at this moment in time Walmsley is on the outside looking in - and not alone along side other England hopefuls.

‘’Looking at my form last year and where I was at the time in terms of fitness - and having worked on other parts of my game - I can honestly say I was very much disappointed on not being selected in the elite squad.

‘’However, at the other end of the scale,I thought it was expected on my part.

‘’Now all I can worry about is my form at St Helens week-in and week-out and hopefully it will catch the eye of the England coach.

‘’If my form leads to recognition and a call up, then that will be great. If not, so be it.’’

Walmsley, who acknowledges it will be difficult to find a spot in what is already a strong and powerful England pack, has at least one option which other fringe players don’t possess - he can play for Scotland as a result of family ties..

‘’This is true and I’ve already talked to Scotland boss Steve McCormack in the past, but while I’m proud of my Scottish heritage, I’m English born and want to play for the country of my birth first and foremost.’’

On the domestic scene, he is not too concerned about Saints’ stuttering start to the Betfred Super League campaign, insisting that the message from the dressing room is that the season is only in its infancy and there’s plenty of time to get back on the horse.

‘’The results against Leigh, Wakefield and Hull FC were disappointing but the mood in the camp is still positive. We did enough to pick up the points, but don’t get me wrong there are other things which need ironing out quickly going forward.

“We are creating chances and opportunities but not putting teams to bed.

“You can’t take anything away from Leigh, Wakefield and Hull but we have done enough to win both games and that is hurting.’’

Walmsley added: “We also had a shaky started 12 months ago. We were dreadful and couldn’t buy a win but as quickly as those bad times came better times followed without us winning a trophy.”