World Cup Final: England’s Jermaine McGillvary hopes to hit right note in grand finale

Jermaine McGillvary, during an England training session in Fremantle. Picture: Daniel Carson/SWpix.com/PhotosportNZ
Jermaine McGillvary, during an England training session in Fremantle. Picture: Daniel Carson/SWpix.com/PhotosportNZ
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IT IS with all his customary ease that England’s Jermaine McGillvary questions what all the fuss is about when it comes to him and Australia’s Valentine Holmes.

Although there is a World Cup final going on today, much of the build-up has been centred on the exciting opposition wingmen.

READY AND WAITING: England's Sam Burgess Picture: Brendon Ratnayake/SWpix.com/PhotosportNZ

READY AND WAITING: England's Sam Burgess Picture: Brendon Ratnayake/SWpix.com/PhotosportNZ

For most onlookers it is easy to see why; Huddersfield Giants’ explosive McGillvary has been a star of the tournament, making more metres than anyone else, scoring seven tries in just five games and catching the eye of some impressed NRL onlookers.

That’s even before you mention his singing.

But then there’s Holmes, the rapid 22-year-old from Cronulla Sharks who scored a record-breaking six tries against Fiji in last week’s semi-final.

That is impressive enough but just a week earlier he became the first Kangaroo to cross five times in one Test when vanquishing Samoa in their last eight meeting.

There will be a lot more going on on Saturday rather than just me and Valentine Holmes, I can assure you that.

England’s Jermaine McGillvary

Holmes is the tournament’s leading try-scorer with 12, breaking Wendell Sailor’s record of 10 in 2000, and he has pace to burn.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post about the much-anticipated match-up, McGillvary insisted: “I don’t know why people make a big deal of it.

“We’ve played against each other twice in the past already, once in this tournament and last year at the Four Nations.

“It’s nothing different, to be fair; he’s seen what I’m like, I’ve seen what he’s like.

“We’ve got into each other twice. It will be a similar sort of game again in a tight, close battle like it always has been.

“But there will be a lot more going on on Saturday rather than just me and Valentine Holmes, I can assure you that.”

That much is true; there are plenty of sub-plots as the competition reaches its conclusion, not least England captain Sean O’Loughlin’s unfortunate absence after he failed in his bid to overcome a quad tear suffered in last week’s epic semi-final versus Tonga.

It has been 45 years since – as Great Britain – a side from the northern hemisphere won the World Cup illustrating the size of the challenge ahead even if they did have the influential Wigan Warriors star in their ranks.

McGillvary, 29, admitted: “Obviously, it’s a huge loss missing Lockers.

“He’s a great player but we have a 24 man squad of great players so someone will fill in.

“We’re disappointed to lose our captain but the squad is good enough to cope without him.

“There’s not long to go now. We’re just relaxed. I’m trying to not get too involved in all the emotion of it.

“We’ve been out and about trying not to think about rugby. And then Saturday will be here.”

McGillvary was in the running for international player of the year earlier this week but finished third, missing out to Australia captain Cameron Smith who claimed the Golden Boot at the awards luncheon in Brisbane, with Tonga’s Jason Taumalolo in second.

“It was a huge honour to be voted for,” said the player, who only made his belated Test debut in the third Test win over New Zealand in 2015.

“I was in some good company as well. It is nice but probably one of those things that I will look at when the tournament has finished. That wasn’t my focus. I left the awards ceremony as soon as possible. I just went.

“It isn’t something I was really interested in all of that sort of thing. I just want to win the World Cup with England. That’s my focus. But obviously fair play to Cameron Smith. He’s an outstanding player. World class.

“He’s been doing it for a good decade or more now but my focus is on Saturday night.”

And what about that singing revelation? England scrum-half Luke Gale divulged this week that the Huddersfield-born winger was singing to himself before taking in a carry during the group game against Australia in Melbourne to aid his focus.

“I just like humming to myself,” added McGillvary, who scored in the 18-4 loss that Wayne Bennett’s side hope to overturn today.

“ I like relaxing and I like to sing a little song. It’s something that relaxes me. I do it all the time but obviously in a big game, maybe I was a bit nervous. I will have been humming.

“It’s just random as anything. I couldn’t even tell you what it was I was singing.

“I can’t remember. It could have been something off a cartoon, or anything. I don’t even think about it.”

If England do win today, however, and end almost half-a-century of hurt, the whole nation’s rugby league fraternity will be singing along with him to any tune the affable Yorkshireman desires. And there will be a fuss.