Oliver Gildart has quickly overcome his “surreal” England call-up – and is now hoping he gets the nod for the opening Test against New Zealand.
The Wigan centre was a late call-up when Sam Burgess withdrew through injury.
And the 22-year-old has settled into Wayne Bennett’s squad as he targets a place in the side in Saturday’s match in Hull. “It’s a massive honour to be in the squad,” he said.
“As a young lad you set yourself a dream of playing Super League and the next step is international.
“I’ve got one foot in the door and hopefully I can do that. It’s going really well.”
Gildart and the rest of the Grand Finalists linked-up with the squad last Friday and have trained with the squad at their Leeds base this week.
“It’s similar to club level, just with different calls and personnel,” said Gildart, who had been preparing to travel to Papua New Guinea with the Knights when he was drafted in just a few days before Wigan’s Grand Final victory against Warrington.
He recalled: “It’s been the maddest two weeks of my life.
“I was looking forward to going over there and I was lost for words when (team manager) Jamie Peacock phoned me up.
“It made it easier having a few of the Wigan lads here, and I’ve got to know a few of the boys as well. Seeing the faces of some of the players I’ve watched over the years, it’s a bit surreal and I’m really enjoying it.”
Bennett will name his 19-man squad tomorrow.
Wigan’s Sean O’Loughlin, Joe Greenwood, John Bateman, George Williams and Sam Tomkins are also in the squad.
Wigan’s Tom Davies and Sam Powell are in the England Knights starting line-up for Saturday’s international against Papua New Guinea.
Paul Anderson’s squad leave Brisbane for Lae tomorrow. They play a second game against the Kumuls at capital Port Moresby on November 3.
Elsewhere, Morgan Escare and Romain Navarrete are expected to play for France against Wales in their European Championship opener in Carcassone this Saturday. Scotland and Ireland are also involved in the tournament.
Ex-Warriors forward Gareth Hock yesterday said he turned down offers from Super League to sign for Championship club Barrow for 2019.