England's Jack Welsby discusses why it felt 'special' to play alongside George Williams on the international stage
England’s Jack Welsby says George Williams was used as a poster boy to inspire himself and others during his time at school.
The Wigan-born pair, who have both attended Standish High at different times, played together in the halves on Saturday afternoon, as Shaun Wane’s side produced a 60-6 victory over Samoa in the opening game of the Rugby League World Cup at St James’ Park.
Welsby states it felt quite strange to be representing England alongside Williams, due to him being a player he looked up to as a teenager.
He said: “Me and George (Williams) are different players but are similar in the way we do things.
"We are very off the cuff, and that’s something Waney (Shaun Wane) sees in us.
"When he goes, I go, and Sam (Tomkins) goes- we are just on the same page.
"I was so confident going into the game having George as my halfback partner and Sam as my fullback.
"I couldn’t have imagined this, and it’s weird looking back on on things. I always remember seeing George on the walls around the school because he was doing special things at Wigan.
"He was the main name at Standish High. When I told him he was laughing about it.
"Being on the international stage with him is pretty special.”
Despite producing a strong victory against Samoa in Newcastle, Welsby states the England squad aren’t getting carried away, but are embracing every moment.
"The focus is still on winning the World Cup,” he added.
"It was a pretty special win, because everyone wrote us off throughout the week and talked about how good Samoa are.
"We’ve gone and made a statement, and to do it against a leading nation is pretty special.
"It’s been 50 years since England won a World Cup, and we feel like it’s backs against the wall- let’s have it.
"We are as proud as anyone to be from where we are.
"As soon you put that badge on, singing the national anthem, and they’re coming at you, it sends shivers down your spine.
"I’ve never experienced anything like it before in my life, it’s so special. I’ve loved every minute of it.”