AS he begins the latest chapter of his career with champions Leeds Rhinos, Richie Myler admits he has not given up hope of reclaiming the England No 7 jersey.
The mercurial scrum-half has not played for his country since winning the last of his six Test caps in 2012.
However, having joined Leeds from Catalans Dragons – and still aged just 27 – the former Warrington Wolves star believes his best years are still ahead of him.
Myler, then of Salford Red Devils, was just 18 when he made his England debut against Wales in Doncaster in 2008.
That year’s World Cup came too early for him while he missed out on the 2013 event, too, despite reaching the Grand Final with Warrington Wolves.
Since then, Myler has struggled to command the attention of first Steve McNamara and then Wayne Bennett but he believes the move to Headingley will only strengthen his prospects of potentially recapturing a place.
England, with Castleford Tigers’ Luke Gale at scrum-half, played their first World Cup final in 22 years on Saturday, but lost out 6-0 to Australia.
Kevin Brown, George Williams and Gareth Widdop were also in the England squad, the sort of players Myler will need to overcome if he does earn that recall to the Test arena.
“I think we’re blessed in England that there’s quite a lot of them coming through now,” said Myler, whose pace, handling and trickery has caused plenty of opponents problems previously.
“There’s a lot of talent there and that squad almost did it for us. It was almost there.
I know my task is a big one here at the moment at Leeds. That’s a challenge in itself and if anything comes down the line (with England) then great. But I do feel my best times are ahead of me now. Touch wood I’m fit and healthy and I feel good.Leeds Rhinos’ Richie Myler
“As a whole the depth England rugby league has got is great for the country, but it’s all hypothetical for me at the moment.
“My main focus is Leeds, coming into a new team, and I’ve got a big job to do. I’m lucky and fortunate this team is blessed with so many stars really.
“Obviously, I would love to play for my country again. I was fortunate to play for them in the past and maybe injury, form and people playing better than me at the time has kept me out of the loop.
“But I’m really looking forward to being in this system here (at Leeds) around these players.
“That will bring my game on playing with these types and I am really looking forward to it.
“My first major focus is coming in here now and getting the best out of myself and this team.
“I know my task is a big one here at the moment at Leeds. That’s a challenge in itself and if anything comes down the line (with England) then great.
“But I do feel my best times are ahead of me now. Touch wood I’m fit and healthy and I feel good.
“I played every game bar one last season so I feel in a good spot physically and mentally.”
Having come in as a replacement for Leeds legend Danny McGuire, who has moved to Hull KR after guiding Rhinos to an eighth Super League title, Myler has big shoes to fill.
However, he is used to dealing with pressure and is not afraid of a challenge, illustrated by his earlier decision to leave Warrington for the south of France, a rarity among English players.
Myler, whose second son Louis was born in Perpignan in April, admitted: “Living in France is unbelievable really for family life.
“I absolutely loved my two years there. It’s just a different lifestyle. The French lifestyle in general is a lot more laid back and they have a lot of focus on family time as well so if you have got one it’s very easy to adapt to.
“We’d just had another little boy out there, though, so we were ready to come home and get back to bit of normality really.
“But I reckon for any young lad who’s in the first-team squad or on the fringes it’s a beautiful part of the world to live and now obviously with Steve McNamara at the helm they are heading in the right direction.
“We loved it but obviously it was the right time for us to come home and when this opportunity presented itself it was too good to turn down really.”
Myler – married to BBC Countryfile presenter Helen Skelton -–did learn some French during his time with Catalans.
“I can survive; I can do the token stuff and go do the shopping,” he said.
“The day to day was a little bit harder because the boys spoke very quickly but I got by.”
Meanwhile, Myler will soon be Down Under as Leeds face Melbourne Storm in the World Club Challenge in February but his first appointment in blue and amber could be the Boxing Day friendly at Wakefield Trinity.
Asked if he would be playing in that, he said: “I don’t know yet but I’d imagine so. Some of the boys aren’t back in until January with the World Cup.
“But I’ve been in since day one of pre-season training so I’m chomping at the bit. I’ve done it before – Warrington used to play Widnes on Boxing Day – so I’ll have to rein in on Christmas dinner, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Myler is expected to partner Joel Moon in the halves for Leeds next term but he added: “There’s a whole lot of them who can play the roles with the likes of Jordan Lilley and Liam Sutcliffe, too.
“I think this team is blessed with talent.
“It’s a benefit for me knowing how much there is. Playing around talented players normally brings the best out of you. That’s what I hope for.”