AS the youngest and least experienced of Great Britain’s six half-backs, Castleford Tigers’ Jake Trueman knows he might not even get a look-in on the Lions tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Nevertheless, that will not trouble the uncapped 20-year-old in the slightest given he knows how much of a vital experience the five-week trip could be for his career development.
It is certainly an unusual step by Great Britain head coach Wayne Bennett to use up an entire quarter of his 24-man squad on half-backs alone.
Granted, St George Illawarra’s Gareth Widdop, St Helens’ Jonny Lomax and Wigan Warriors’ George Williams have already served him well for England.
But Bennett has also selected the Australian-born duo of Salford Red Devils’ Jackson Hastings – the newly-crowned Man of Steel – and Warrington Wolves’ stand-off Blake Austin who enjoyed such a fine debut season in Super League following his move from Canberra Raiders.
Bradford-born Trueman, meanwhile, was shortlisted for Super League’s Young Player of the Year having won the award last term and is well-regarded by the international selectors. Asked about who he sees as the leading competition, he said: “It is really healthy. Probably Jonny Lomax.
“He’s been outstanding and in my opinion is probably the best half maybe after Jackson Hastings and George Williams.
“There’s some really good competition and it’s something we have talked about the last few years where we haven’t got the halves to compete with Australia. But I think we’ve definitely got that this year; there’s world-class players in there and I’ve no doubt the halves that get picked will compete with New Zealand.
“There’s some great players in here with Lomax, Blake Austin, George Williams and everyone else. So, I might not get picked to play but it will be great just to learn off them over the weeks and it’s a massive honour to be in a Lions squad. It’s a lot easier to learn off someone when you see them everyday and you’re around them in training.
“You can learn from them in games and I do watch videos to prepare to face them. But it’s a different level when you’re around them every day like this.”
Great Britain face Tonga on Saturday week before two Tests against the Kiwis and then a trip to Papua New Guinea.
Trueman was supposed to visit PNG last year with England Knights but broke a hand.
He recalled: “Oli Holmes, at Cas, went and said it was probably the best three weeks of his life so that didn’t help!
“The videos looked crazy so I was really gutted to miss out on that and that’s why I’ve been looking forward to this this year.”
First, Trueman will play for England in the inaugural World Cup Nines in Sydney this weekend when he could link up with Williams and Austin.
He said: “I’ve never played it before but I’ve watched it a bit when the NRL did it and it looks like a good format with plenty of space and it should be exciting.”