Wilkin - ‘Me and Ryan are pals and team-mates now’

Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford Saints v Leeds 08/10/2011.'Wilkin salutes the fans
Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford Saints v Leeds 08/10/2011.'Wilkin salutes the fans
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JON Wilkin has made his peace with Leeds’ Ryan Bailey.

The St Helens second rower blasted Bailey for his antics in the wake of the Yorkshire side’s Grand Final.

But the pair were then called up to Steve McNamara’s England squad the following day.

However, both players have since spoken before training began and made peace.

Wilkin said: “It’s part of sport, isn’t it?

“Personal battles happen, I think it’s what makes sport interesting. Passion sometimes does overflow.

“Ryan’s form has been fantastic, and it’s good to have him in the England team. I spoke to him before we came into camp, and there are no issues.

“Those rivalries that you have are just signs that people care. I care as much for the St Helens cause as much as Ryan cares for the Leeds cause, and that’s why we clashed.

“If we can translate that into caring for the England cause, that will be the common bond between us.”

Wilkin, who has been involved with the national team since 2004, says the regular get-togethers of McNamara’s elite training squad this year will help remove club tensions, and make the current England team one of the best-prepared in history.

“One thing that is different this year to other years, is that we’ve been in camp two or three times already,” he said.

“It now seems very familiar, very comfortable, almost like a second club in that you already have a kind of kind of bond with people here and the surroundings.

“It is the best preparation without doubt. In years gone by, it was good, but probably on a par with clubs.

“In terms of facilities on offer, resources, quality of coaching and time with specialist people, it’s far greater than anything I’ve known.

“That’s not a criticism of the past, but it does give you the feeling of something elevated from club rugby.”

England boss McNamara echoed Wilkin’s sentiments, revealing it was the warring players themselves who brokered the peace.

“They’ve acted so maturely,” McNamara said. “They dealt with it themselves, initially.

“The players are absolutely fine. There has been some laughing and joking and, in a silly sort of way, it’s created a bit of a bond.

“It shows the passion those two players have for their own clubs, and we want players with that type of passion doing that for England.”