LEEDS RHINOS’ Liam Sutcliffe was hoping to make his Test debut in Lae, but it could happen in Leigh instead.
Sutcliffe has been called into the full England squad for tomorrow’s clash with France at Leigh Sports Village.
He had already been named as a member of the Knights group who will take on Papua New Guinea in Lae on Saturday, October 27 and Port Moresby a week later. Sutcliffe is among six Knights players – also including clubmate Ash Handley and Castleford Tigers’ Oliver Holmes – promoted as cover for members of the full squad who were involved in last Saturday’s Betfred Super League Grand Final.
“When I got the phone call the other day it was a bit of a shock, it was out of the blue, but I am really excited,” said Sutcliffe. “It is great to be in and around the kind of players they have in the England squad and if I do manage to get a game it would be great, I’d be over the moon with it. If not, it has been a great experience anyway being able to train with world class players so either way I am happy.”
Sutcliffe was training with England for the second time today and will go straight into camp with the Knights after tomorrow’s game.
They fly to Brisbane on Thursday for a week’s preparation before moving on to Papua New Guinea.
“That is the only country where rugby league is the national sport and Sutcliffe said: “It’s been a tough, long season and it’s something to get excited about and look forward to.
“I’ve been told a few stories about the place from [former Great Britain star] Paul Sculthorpe, who has been there, but I don’t really know what to expect.
I am going there with an open mind and I’ll see what happens when we get over there. It’ll be a great test because Papua New Guinea showed in the World Cup [last year] how good they can be. It’ll be as tough task, especially over there, but I am looking forward to it.”
Sutcliffe’s ability to fill a variety of roles will boost his chances of making his first international appearance.
The 23-year-old scored four tries, 49 goals and a drop goal in 21 games for Leeds this year, starting at full-back, in both centre positions, stand-off, scrum-half and in the second-row.
He said: “I’m not sure where I’ll be playing yet.
“Once we get to Brisbane and start doing team stuff I’ll have more idea then.”
Richie Myler, who partnered Sutcliffe in the halves for Rhinos this year, has been called into the England squad for tomorrow and the upcoming three-Test series against New Zealand.
“It’s great for Richie,” Sutcliffe said. He had a good season for us and it’s reward for him.”