Widdop has eye on an England debut

Gareth Widdop insists he is ready for his England debut, despite making just two first-grade appearances for his club.

The Halifax-born Melbourne Storm full-back was the shock inclusion in new national coach Steve McNamara's 19-man squad for Saturday's Gillette Fusion international against France at Leigh Sports Village.

The 21-year-old, who emigrated with his family to Victoria when he was 16, came to the attention of McNamara and company when he was part of Melbourne's travelling squad for the World Club Challenge with Leeds in February.

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He caught the eye playing in the Storm's warm-up match against Harlequins but was 18th man for the clash with the Rhinos at Elland Road and only made his NRL debut as a replacement for centre Greg Inglis in April.

"I was surprised at the call-up," admitted Widdop, who flew out of Sydney on Saturday with Wests Tigers' former Leeds and Wakefield forward Gareth Ellis and will go into camp with the England squad today.

"I hadn't really thought about it, I'd been concentrating on playing football every week. It's great news but I was definitely surprised.

"They obviously saw me against the Quins and they've done a bit of research and watched a few games I have played.

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"I'm going to give it my best shot. It's a massive honour. As a young player, you always want to represent your country. I'm really excited.

"Playing NRL is massive but playing for your country is even bigger. I definitely do feel ready to go out there and show people that I'm ready for it."