World Cup on horizon but Jermaine McGillvary’s focus is with Huddersfield Giants

As proud as he is of wearing the England jersey, Jermaine McGillvary admits he cannot start thinking about the 2021 World Cup – although a Zoom chat with new coach Shaun Wane has left him knowing just what he needs to do to make sure he gets there.

Jermaine McGillvary of Huddersfield. Picture: Isabel Pearce/SWpix.com

Earlier this week, organisers marked 500 days until the tournament kicks off in Newcastle.

Huddersfield Giants winger McGillvary, who made his Test debut under Steve McNamara in 2015 and has been a mainstay under Wayne Bennett for the following four years, hopes to feature again having proved a massive hit in the 2017 event.

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But, given the coronavirus, he admitted to The Yorkshire Post: “It does feel like it’s miles away.

“Even the season now feels miles away after training on our own for the last three months.

“When I used to say before that England was at the back of my mind, it really is now!

“We’ve all had our chats with Shaun Wane, though, and he’s told us what he expects from us individually and he’s not going off name or anything.

“He’s going off players that are doing their job which is fair.

“So, when we do get back playing, I need to do my job for Huddersfield and hopefully I can get that call again as there’s no prouder moment than putting on your country’s jersey.”

McGillvary, who turned 32 last month, will face plenty of stiff competition for places at next year’s event.

But with 12 tries in 17 games for England, and a further three caps for Great Britain last year, there is no doubting his pedigree. He was impressed with his first chat with former Wigan chief Wane, too, who took over from Bennett in January.

McGillvary, who played in the 2017 World Cup final loss to Australia, said: “I was on with him for about 40 minutes and we spoke about plenty.

“He spoke about how he used to go up against me with his Wigan teams, his plans for England, a bit of what we did under the years with Wayne, what he brings to the team and how he works.

“I’d heard a lot of things anyway having played with the Wigan players at England and I’m good friends with Mark Bitcon, the old England and Wigan conditioner who is now Man City’s academy conditioner.

“I speak a lot to him when I bump into him at Man City (McGillvary’s son plays there) and he has plenty of good things to say about Shaun Wane.

“It was a good chat and I learned a lot of things I didn’t know, especially about him and how he works.”

For now, though, players are just looking forward to hopefully getting back in action with their clubs as they aim to resume the season in August.

They are still on furlough although players have at least been able to meet up in twos on their own accord if they want to train with a team-mate.

McGillvary said: “I’ve managed to have a few sessions with some of the players at different times, people like Bruno (Michael Lawrence), Leroy (Cudjoe) or Darnell (McIntosh).

“We can do it in twos. It’s good to be able to do that. We don’t have to.

“It’s totally up to us. But we want to do that and it keeps things varied.

“I’ve been training with different people. My kids have joined at times as well and my brother to mix things up.”

The prolific wideman, who is in his testimonial season with hometown Huddersfield, has no issues when it comes to keeping his pace sharp.

He said: “My brother Lei-vann is a sprinter. He’s only 17 but he’s a lot quicker than me so it’s good when we are together to try keep up with him. It’s good to train with different people and it’s refreshing in these circumstances.”

Premier League football is back next weekend and, of course, rugby league in Australia restarted three weeks ago.

McGillvary admitted: “Everyone’s just looking forward to training together again and getting back out on the field.

“I think now it’s going to be 16th of August but we’ve not been given a date yet on when we’ll start training again so that’s still up in the air.

“We’re waiting for that so we can have an ending in sight and kick on again.”