THERE are some Hull FC fans who may still think Wayne Bennett should have taken one of the club’s other props to the World Cup rather than Scott Taylor.
The 26-year-old is in the England squad once again after another excellent year for the Black and Whites, but his front-row colleague Liam Watts has made strides, too, and is deemed unlucky in some quarters not to have earned his own call-up.
Taylor, in fairness, has impressed before for Bennett having made his international debut under the demanding Australian last autumn and also being selected for the mid-season trip to Sydney even if he did not actually face Samoa.
Watts has undoubtedly enjoyed a terrific campaign but having – rightly or wrongly – received three red cards in 2017 and been known for the odd wild off-load, it is understandable why he may still be down Bennett’s pecking order.
Indeed, George Burgess, the hulking South Sydney forward, has been axed, a further sign of the competitive nature of an England front-row that boasts his twin brother Tom, James Graham, Chris Hill, Taylor and rookie Alex Walmsley in the 24-man touring squad.
Taylor told The Yorkshire Post: “Whatever squad got named people would be in uproar about it. No one would ever be happy.
“It is what it is. They have picked who they have and you just have to move on now, I think.
“Obviously you can fight cases for a lot of players at Hull this year. You just have to crack on and I’m just delighted to be in there. I can’t wait to get started again for England.”
The ex-Hull KR forward, who won the Super League and Challenge Cup double with Wigan Warriors in 2013 before joining boyhood heroes Hull at the start of last year, knows he has a fight on to make the Test team for the opener against Australia on Friday week.
“I’m just going to be as professional as I can again,” he said, having flown out on Thursday.
“Obviously I must be doing something right to keep getting picked and I really rate Wayne as a coach.
“He’s a really good bloke and he knows his stuff – you have to do to be where he is in the game and achieving what he has,” he said.
“All I’m concentrating on is building up this week, hitting the ground running in Oz, getting my body in the right shape to try and impress and do everything I can to get in that team for Friday’s opening game (a friendly against Affiliated States in Perth).”
Taylor, who helped Hull retain the Challenge Cup in August, is relishing being on the same side as Walmsley, the 18 stone St Helens prop who has led the way in Super League this term and hopes to make his Test debut in the forthcoming tournament.
“He’s had another great year and was possibly unlucky to miss out last year,” he said.
“He’s come on even more this season; you see how effective he can be in games when used right.
“Every time I’ve played him we’ve had a real good battle and he’s a good bloke too. It will be good to spend time with him and get to know him even more while if I get the chance to play with him I’m very happy he’s on my team now rather than against me.”
England will not be facing Andrew Fifita, though, the twin brother of Wakefield Trinity prop David who, just 48 hours after being selected, controversially ditched world champions Australia to play for Tonga in the World Cup.
Similarly, North Queensland Cowboys star Jason Taumalolo has turned his back on New Zealand for Tonga, too, suddenly reducing the odds on them becoming shock winners of the tournament.
Asked if he was surprised by their decisions, Taylor said: “Yes, you are because you think whether they’re Australia or New Zealand then that’s the pinnacle.
“Also, I don’t know what the numbers are, but I imagine there’s a lot more financial gains to be playing for them, too, not that I’m saying that’s a reason why they would .
“But at the end of the day it’s about playing who you want to play for and if you’re Tongan and Australian, but feel strongly about Tonga and want to represent your family who are Tongan, then good on them.”