GARETH Hock will end two years of misery when he steps back onto the big stage tonight – and has already declared his ambition to win his Test place back.
The forward is expected to make his Super League return from the substitutes’ bench against Huddersfield this evening (5.45pm kick-off) following a two-year doping ban.
And while he concedes he may need game-time to fine tune his timing and build his match-fitness, he is in a rush to get up-to-speed as quickly as possible and re-establish himself as a force in Super League – and on the international stage.
England coach Steve McNamara has admitted the door is open for Hock to return to the national team if his form is good enough before the Four Nations begins later this year.
Hock – whose last match at any level was for England in June 2009 – told the Evening Post: “I’ve thought about the Four Nations, I want to get back to the top – no distractions.
“That’s my goal, to get back in to the England side – I want to play.
“I want to get straight back into it and get some game time.
“I’ve not spoken to Steve McNamara but a few of the Wigan lads were saying he’s been asking about how I’ve been going.
“I know it’s all up to me now. I need to impress to get in the Wigan side first, and then hopefully the rest’ll take care of itself.”
Hock, 27, has been training with Wigan for more than two months and reckons he is already feeling the benefits of the stricter, more professional, regime introduced by Michael Maguire.
“I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, I’m fresh,” he said.
“The Wigan club is different now to when I left. It’s just totally different.
“Training is dead intense and Madge is brilliant.
“He tells you everything you need to know, what you need to work on, what’s good... he’s brilliant.
“You buzz off him. And I love the training styles and the drills. I’m loving it.
“These last two or three months have helped me heaps, I’ve been able to do loads.
“I’m as fit as I can be, it’s just game-time I need, because you can’t emulate that, no matter what you do.”
Hock hopes Maguire’s fitness demands and attention to detail can bring the best out of him before he leaves for Souths at the end of the year.
The academy-product – who debuted in 2003 – recently signed a four-and-a-half year deal with his home-town club, taking him until the end of 2015.
And he reckons his absence from the game may help him prolong his career well into his 30s.
He added: “It’s been awful being out for two years, but if there’s a good thing to come from it, I’ve had two years without any knocks or bangs and so hopefully I can extend my career by a couple of years. We’ll have to see.
“Right now I just can’t wait to get out there and play again.
“I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed that.”