LEE Mossop knows he cannot clinch a place in England’s World Cup squad during the 2012 autumn internationals – but he fears he could play himself out of contention.
The Wigan front rower, who played for England against the Exiles earlier this year, won his first cap against Wales last weekend and is hoping to keep his place in the team for Saturday’s game against France at Craven Park.
Mossop, 23, and Warrington forward Chris Hill, 24, are among the breed of young front rowers who are seen as the front runners to take over from the old guard of Adrian Morley and Jamie Peacock.
However, Morley is still hunting a World Cup spot and England’s pack will be bolstered next year by the inclusion of Test regulars Sam Burgess, James Graham and Eorl Crabtree, who were all forced to pull out of the current international series due to injury or suspension.
Mossop accepts that coach Steve McNamara has given him an opportunity to steal a march on the experienced absentees and a chance to put down a marker for the World Cup.
“Steve has made no secret of the fact that this tournament is the real starting point for us,” he said.
“If you’re not performing in these few games, you put yourself out of the window for the World Cup.
“I know I have to perform as well as I can, not just in the game but during training as well, to show as a player I’m ready for the World Cup.”
Mossop made a confident enough start to his international career in England’s 80-12 rout of the Welsh but acknowledges that France will provide a sterner test in what is effectively a dress rehearsal for the November 11 final.
“I played against the Exiles earlier in the year but to be given my first cap was pretty special,” he said.
“It was a bit of a no-win situation for us against Wales. We knew we had to put on a performance and Steve and Jimmy (Lowes) were over the moon with the way we played.
“It will be a much sterner test for us on Saturday.
“As a nation, France are improving in leaps and bounds and we will have to prepare as well as we did against Wales to come away with a performance.
“They are renowned for their forwards so we need to get on top of their pack so the backs can do their stuff.”