Sean O’Loughlin expects Liam Farrell’s omission from the England side to motivate him towards a World Cup spot.
Farrell was surprisingly left out of the squad to face Samoa today - an absence brought under sharper focus by the selection of two Australian-born forwards.
O’Loughlin said: “Everyone is in on merit but naturally I’m disappointed for blokes like Liam, who’ve been playing well.
“That’s one of the headaches a coach has though and there’s plenty of depth to the squad.
“I’m sure missing out will just rev him up to crack on and play even better.”
O’Loughlin will tick off another career ‘first’ today, having never played against Samoa before.
And he will lead the nation into the match as captain - he led them to a series victory against New Zealand two years ago.
“I just wanted to be in,” he said. “It’s a massive honour to be captain but my focus wasn’t ‘be in the team and be captain’, it was just being in the team.
“I hadn’t taken it for granted that I was in the team and there’s a lot of competition for spots, so I’m chuffed to be involved again.
“And not being involved last year drove it home how much I missed it. I had that hunger to be involved again.”
He has described the captaincy as more of an honour than a responsibility.
“At international level, the team is going to be full of players that can do it and carry out that role for their club,” he said.
““It sounds like I’m under-selling it a bit but what I mean is I wouldn’t have been disappointed if I wasn’t captain.
““Obviously, I’m buzzing that I’ve got it, but I’d have done the same thing if I wasn’t captain. Whether someone is named captain or not, I don’t think they bring anything different to the table.
““I wouldn’t do anything different if I wasn’t captain, as would Sam Burgess or James Graham. Luke Gale has captained Cas’... whether they’ve got a ‘c’ next to their name or not, they do what they do.”
O’Loughlin was initially named captain when Bennett took the role last year, before injury ruled him out of the Four Nations and Sam Burgess took the mantle.
The Souths prop said: “Sean’s a great leader of an amazing side and I love playing alongside him.
“Being captain is a great honour and I did it with great pride but I completely respect Sean being named it now he’s fit again.”
Today’s Test against Samoa is being screened behind a paywall on the RFL’s website, costing £4.99, from 10.30am UK time.