Walmsley chases World Cup glory

Former Batley Bulldogs star Alex Walmsley could be in line to make his England debut in next Fridays opening game against Australia.

Former Batley Bulldogs star Alex Walmsley is aiming to help England to World Cup glory when the competition starts next Friday.

Uncapped Walmsley was named in Wayne Bennett’s 24-man England squad that flew out to Australia last week and it has been a rapid rise through the ranks for the 27-year-old.

Walmsley cut his teeth at the Dewsbury Celtic amateur club and also represented Leeds Met University before John Kear took him to Batley.

Walmsley was named Championship player of the year in 2012 and played 22 games for the Bulldogs before securing a big move to St Helens.

Walmsley was selected in the England squad that travelled to Sydney for a one-off Test against Somoa in May but didn’t make the final 17.

At 18 stone and 6ft 7in tall, Walmsley was the leading front row man in Super League during 2017, making 526 ball carries and a total of 4,256 metres.

The 27-year-old from Dewsbury was delighted to get the England call and is now relishing the prospect of playing on the biggest stage of all.

He said: “I really was over the moon to get the call and I am really proud of myself.

“As a nation we’re very fortunate to be gifted with arguably the best pack in the world, if not one of them.

“It is really tough competition. Look at the players in the NRL — Sam and Tom Burgess, Elliott Whitehead, Josh Hodgson and James Graham, then over here there’s Scott Taylor, Chris Hill and Sean O’Loughlin.

“It bodes well for us. It will be tough for me to break into but as I always say, I’m not here to make up the numbers.”

Walmsley also admits that being part of the England set up earlier this year will also benefit him, despite missing out on the Samoa clash.

He added: “To have been so close and not get the opportunity [to play against Samoa], I’m better for it as a player and as a person.

“Hopefully that will put me in good stead for the World Cup.”

Walmsley only became a dad five weeks ago but is hopeful that his son, Atticus, will be in Australia for at least part of the World Cup.

Walmsley famously came off early in Saints’ crucial televised game at Wakefield Trinity last month to rush to the hospital, still in full kit, only to narrowly miss out on the birth.

England begin their World Cup campaign against hosts Australia next Friday (October 27).

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