MORE than a decade after his last brief dalliance with the format, Huddersfield Giants’ Jermaine McGillvary is relishing representing England Nines – and pulling on a Great Britain jersey.
The classy winger, 31, has been picked for England’s squad in the inaugural Downer World Cup Nines tournament that takes place in Sydney on October 18/19.
He is one of the few players to have experienced the format which it is hoped will help drive new interest in the sport.
“I played in the first Floodlit Nines trophy for Huddersfield Giants at Headingley in 2008,” said McGillvary, a competition that soon ended just 12 months later.
“We won it as well. I was playing as an Academy player and ever since then I’ve enjoyed watching it. We’ve had World Sevens at union but never the Nines and it’s going to be outstanding.
“There’ll be a lot of very fast, young and dangerous players and players who will have good feet.
There’ll be a lot of very fast, young and dangerous players and players who will have good feet.Jermaine McGillvary
“It’ll be a good test for me and good for my fitness, too.”
McGillvary, who is joined by former Huddersfield team-mates Jake Connor (Hull FC) and Jack Hughes (Warrington Wolves) in the 16-man squad that flies out on Saturday, hopes the shortened version of the game will kick-on after the event at Parramatta Eels’ impressive Bankwest Stadium.
He said: “It’s massive in Australia and New Zealand. I watch it all the time on YouTube – touch rugby, Sevens – it’s all really big out there. I don’t understand why it can’t be as big in rugby league.
“With a lot of big-name players and nations all playing this month it should really help it grow.
“It was very tiring last time I played. It was rolling subs at Headingley and I think it’s going to be the same this time around.
“It really does test your fitness and you’re always on the go so it tests your stamina and speed. You don’t get any rest but it was fun.” England, face group games against Wales, France and Lebanon.
McGillvary, who played in the 2017 World Cup final for England, is also delighted to make the Lions squad and said: “It’s probably going to be my last tour so it’s awesome that I get to do it with Great Britain.
“There’s a lot of great wingers around and some top wingers who – on form – are probably better than me that could have gone over (to New Zealand) instead.
“But Wayne (Bennett) has put his trust in me again and hopefully I can go, play for the Lions and repay him again.”