World Cup: I’ve played two good games in my career, says Jermaine McGillvary

England's Jermaine McGillvary: Aims to improve.
England's Jermaine McGillvary: Aims to improve.
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Jermaine McGillvary spent much of the week seeking shelter from the Sydney heatwave but the England winger concedes it is better than training in the snow of West Yorkshire.

England brought forward training at the Redfern Oval to 9am at the start of the week to avoid the worst of the conditions as temperatures soared to 35 degrees Celsius.

Wayne’s really happy but I know there’s improvement to come. The more games I play and the sharper I get, I know I can get better.

Jermaine McGillvary

Huddersfield Giants’ McGillvary said: “Training in the heat is different, because you’re not used to it, but it brings the best out of you because you have to concentrate as you get fatigued quite quickly.

“I’d rather train in this than in the snow in Huddersfield, running up hills.”

The 29-year-old has captured the attention of the Australian media following his man-of-the-match performance in England’s World Cup opening 18-4 defeat to the Kangaroos in Melbourne, where he scored his fifth try in six appearances and impressed with his power-packed running.

McGillvary is being linked with a move to the NRL but the Huddersfield-born player says he has never considered the prospect.

“I’m contracted for three more years,” he said. “It’s never really crossed my mind and there’s never been any interest.

“You never say never but I’m on a good contract at Huddersfield. I’ve got security and I’m happy with where I am.”

Although he is one of just two specialist wingers in England coach Wayne Bennett’s 24-man squad, McGillvary is not taking his place in the team for granted and stands by his initial criticism of his second-half performance at AAMI Park in which he berated himself for being lazy.

“It wasn’t a case of me being hard on myself, it was more that I know I could do better,” he said.

“When I get tired, I sometimes take the easy option.

“Rather than going in and helping out, sometimes I might stay put. It’s little things that maybe the crowd doesn’t see but I know I should be doing.

“Wayne’s really happy but I know there’s improvement to come. The more games I play and the sharper I get, I know I can get better.

“I’ve always been like that, ever since I was a kid when I played football. I’ve always been my own worst critic and it’s helped me to get where I am today. According to me, I’ve played two good games in my career.”

McGillvary will be part of an England team showing one change for the match with Lebanon at Allianz Stadium tomorrow – prop Alex Walmsley coming in for his debut in place of the injured Sam Burgess.

The Cedars are coming off the back of a notable 29-18 win over France, not that McGillvary had taken much notice.

“I didn’t see their game as I don’t like to watch too much rugby,” said McGillvary, whose oldest son Isaac is a budding footballer with Manchester City’s academy.

“I like to keep my mind clear and relax when I’m not training. I don’t like rugby 24/7, I just want to relax, forget about it and full on concentrate in training. Here, I try and have some downtime as I’d have it at home.”

Assistant coach Denis Betts has revealed some of the England players are showing signs of “wear and tear” two weeks into the World Cup.

With just one change for the game against Lebanon, six players are still waiting for their first chance on tour.

That may come in the final group game against France in Perth on Sunday week with Bennett hoping to give all his players game time before the knock-out stages and Betts insists that spirits remain high.

“I know coaches will tell you it’s not important for everyone to get on but, believe me, it helps massively when you’ve got a group like this that does,” said the former Great Britain international, who insists the fringe players remain focused.

“It’s about keeping them motivated, chatting to them, but they get it. They stay ready because they know they could play a massive part at any time.

“Some guys are already showing signs of wear and tear. Everyone understands what we’re about as a whole group: staff and players.

“It’s about staying honest and staying clear. Wayne doesn’t promise anything but everyone knows he wants to use everyone. We share a collective purpose and we’re all in it together.

“Apparently, the Italian team have been fighting amongst themselves. You don’t want that.

“When you’ve got 24 bulls in a room, sometimes they clash heads and lock horns and you want them to be aggressive and use their emotions but in the right way. Not thumping a team-mate on a night out.

“We just want to do things better than we did last week, that’s our challenge. There won’t be changes in key areas, it’s just doing those things that we’ve been working on since I came to the team last year.”