Walmsley aiming to put Dewsbury ‘on the map’

Alex Walmsley in action against Papua New Guinea.
Alex Walmsley in action against Papua New Guinea.
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ALEX WALMSLEY hopes to put Dewsbury “on the map” by helping England win their first-ever World Cup.

The St Helens prop hails from the town and started his professional career with neighbouring Batley Bulldogs.

Sam Burgess takes a selfie after the semi-final win over Tonga.

Sam Burgess takes a selfie after the semi-final win over Tonga.

He is on the bench when England face Australia in Saturday’s Brisbane finale, completing a remarkable odyssey having still been playing for Leeds Metropolitan University as recently as 2012.

However, Walmsley is not the only son of Dewsbury to be representing England in their first World Cup final since 1995 – he is joined by fellow forwards Sam and Tom Burgess.

“It’s great and it’ll be nice to have a day to make the town proud,” he said.

“I’ve roomed with Sam and Tom on this tour and we’ve spoken about Dewsbury and some of the different names we know back there.

Tom Burgess.

Tom Burgess.

“We’re all very proud about where we come from and it’s great to put the town on the map so to speak.

“I’m sure there’ll be plenty down at Dewsbury Celtic and Dewsbury Moor tuning in come Saturday morning and it would be amazing to go on and finish this job.”

Both amateur clubs – Walmsley played for Celtic with the Burgesses representing Moor as juniors – are opening their doors on Saturday morning for fans to hopefully watch Wayne Bennett’s side make history.

While the Burgess siblings – especially South Sydney star Sam after his sojourn with England rugby union – are well-known in sporting circles, Walmsley has made a late surge into the public eye.

Indeed, the hulking 27-year-old front-row had not even made his international debut ahead of the World Cup.

“To just be in the 24-man squad was unbelievable,” he recalled.

“At the start of the World Cup, my only aim was to play a game or two. I never knew if I’d be in the 17 or not and to make my international debut and represent my country was the ultimate goal at the start of the tournament.

“So, to play five games and only miss one due to illness is unbelievable. To be finishing the tournament in Brisbane at the Suncorp Stadium in a World Cup final against Australia, it doesn’t get any better.

“It’s something I’m really looking forward to.”

Walmsley was named to make his debut in the group opener against Australia but pulled out on the day of the game due to illness.

He was fit enough to take his place versus Lebanon and has had an impressive impact in all their games since including France, Papua New Guinea and that epic semi-final against Tonga.

Australia, who saw captain Cameron Smith win his second Golden Boot yesterday, are huge favourites to win yet another World Cup. England did push them hard in that opener before a late try gave the hosts a flattering 18-4 scoreline but Walmsley insisted: “We can’t be anything less than 100 per cent.

“Anything less than that won’t be good enough. It’ll be very tough; they’re number one for a reason.

“We have to complete high. Our completion hasn’t been good enough yet and it has to be spot on for 80 minutes so we can give a performance of high quality to really test them. But we know we can do this.”