Jake Connor is set to win a Great Britain call-up against New Zealand but insists he is not taking anything for granted.
The Hull utility back was left out of Wayne Bennett’s squad for the opening tour game against a Tongan Invitational XIII in Hamilton on Saturday and forced to watch from the sidelines as they suffered a 14-6 defeat.
Wigan’s Zak Hardaker, a specialist full-back, got the nod for the number four shirt, but Connor says he was not taken aback by his omission.
“No, not really,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting anything. It’s a privilege just to be picked for Great Britain. You can’t come in expecting to play straight away.
“Even if I didn’t play on this tour, I’m honoured to be on it and I’m having a good time and training hard. It has been an experience, but hopefully I’ll get to play this week and get a few games under my belt.”
Connor, who played centre in all three matches of last year’s 2-1 Test series triumph for England over the Kiwis, admitted it was a frustrating experience as he watched helplessly on at the Waikato Stadium.
“It was a good game to watch, Tonga played well, they outplayed us. But you always feel like you could have added something to it when you don’t play, but that’s the way it goes.”
Bennett dropped a hint during the post-match press conference in Hamilton that Connor would take the place of the injured Oliver Gildart for the first Test against New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday, but he says he has heard nothing yet from the coach.
“We’ll train today and I assume we’ll find out little bits today. I think I’m the only centre left, so hopefully I’ll play.”