Wakefield Trinity v St Helens: Injuries to blame for England setbacks, says Jones-Bishop

AS he approaches his 30th birthday next week, many people may wonder just how Wakefield Trinity's Ben Jones-Bishop has failed to ever pull on an England jersey.

One of the most consistent and reliable Super League wingers of the last decade, he heads into tonight’s game against leaders St Helens with 16 tries after yet another excellent campaign.

Jones-Bishop finished with 20 last term and has crossed wherever he has played whether on a loan at Harlequins during his formative years, with home-town Leeds Rhinos where he won two Grand Finals, or a solitary year at Salford Red Devils before moving to Wakefield at the end of 2015.

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For one reason or another, however, he has never got that shot at the elite level.

Ben Jones-Bishop. Picture Tony Johnson.

“In 2011, I was in the England Four Nations squad and again in 2012 but didn’t play,” Jones-Bishop recalled to The Yorkshire Post.

“It was a great experience to be around those players and then I just think injuries really (affected chances). Obviously, I had my blood clot and that was six months out.

“There was a shoulder op which was a while as well and then an ACL so… Possibly it’s bad luck and maybe I’ve not fulfilled some of that early promise.

“But the injuries were pretty big and I missed a lot of time. I had a good year leading up to the World Cup just before I signed a new deal here.

“Maybe there was an outside chance then but it just didn’t happen and it is what it is.

“Obviously it’s the pinnacle – you want to play for your country – but it didn’t happen so I try to focus on just playing the best I can week in, week out for Wakefield.”

As they seek to become the only team this term to beat leaders Saints twice, his link with Reece Lyne, the in-form centre who this week signed a new long-term deal, is sure to be crucial to any hopes of a victory.

Lyne, 25, is in the England Knights squad and tipped to eventually earn a full cap.

Jones-Bishop said: “I think he can do that. He’s ace. It’s been great to watch him develop since I came here and we’ve formed a good partnership on the right.

“I’m happy for him. He’s a new father as well so lots of things are going on while it’s great for the club that he’s signed long-term.”

Sixth-placed Wakefield can mathematically reach the top-four after last week’s opening Super 8s win at Hull although, realistically, the target is to chase down Huddersfield Giants and repeat last year’s finish of fifth.

Trinity have plenty of class in their ranks, as that 24-20 success over Saints at Belle Vue in April – one of two regular season defeats for Justin Holbrook’s side – suggested. Indeed, they almost beat them in the return fixture, too, before falling 34-30.

Grand Final favourites Saints are aiming to avoid a third successive defeat, having been stunned by Catalans Dragons in the Challenge Cup semi-final and then losing against Giants last Friday.

Jones-Bishop added: “We’ve had two great contests so far, both very closely fought and I’m sure this will be similar.

“We’re playing with confidence and they’ll be looking to put in a performance. We’re just looking to keep our form going; we’re building as a team and learning how to manage games and win which is something we want to take in to 2019.”

On the subject of England wingers, Jones-Bishop has paid tribute to his former Leeds team-mate Ryan Hall.

The 30-year-old, who joins Sydney Roosters in 2019, has seen his Rhinos career ended by an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Jones-Bishop said: “He’s been immense. I remember when I was 16 or 17 playing him at Oulton when I was at Queens.

“We both came through Leeds academy into the first team, trained together for five years, car-shared for a similar amount of time and he’s a great bloke.

“Obviously he’s had an outstanding career. For him to have played his last Leeds game in that way isn’t the happy ending he wanted – the same actually happened to me when I did my ACL against Bradford – but I’m sure he’ll overcome it and move on to Sydney for a new adventure.”