STEVE McNamara has tipped George Williams for a bright international future – after being convinced of his England credentials.
The coach admits he wasn’t sure whether the Wigan halfback would “shrink or grow” when he called him into the squad.
He’s done tremendously well, and hopefully he’ll be contender for that half-back role for years to comeSteve McNamara
But the Super League Young Player of the Year impressed enough during training – and Test wins against France and New Zealand – to justify his selection in the No.7 shirt for tomorrow’s crunch Test in London.
McNamara said: “I really liked what I saw from George in the second-half of the Super League season, and I felt he could complement Gareth (Widdop) well if that was the half-back pairing.
“But you want to see them on the training field, you want to see how they engage in the different environment.
“People can grow and people can shrink in a different environment like this.
“I’d seen George play for the England Under-18s and so I was pretty confident in him, but everything he has done has confirmed that for me.
“He’s done tremendously well, and hopefully he’ll be contender for that half-back role for years to come.” Williams is rooming with halfback partner Widdop during the international series, and the St George Illawarra playmaker has been impressed with the 21-year-old.
“We’ve been working well and hopefully we can improve the more we play alongside each other,” said Widdop.
“I just said to him, more than anything, to go and back yourself – just do what you’ve done all year, because it’s worked.”
Williams is likely to be one of five Wigan players in the England side for tomorrow’s clash at the Olympic Stadium, as they aim to wrap up the series with a game to go.
His club and Test captain, Sean O’Loughlin, says Williams has risen to the task.
“That’s the big thing, he doesn’t shy away from his responsibility,” said O’Loughlin.
“Being a half, he has to get the team around the park, and he’s confident enough to do that.”
Hooker Josh Hodgson, now at NRL side Canberra, added: “To start for your country at such a young age is a massive thing and he’s handled it well.
“You need your halves to be nice and loud and talking, and George has done that.
“He makes sure the boys know where they are going, what plays are on, he’s been brilliant for us and he’ll only kick on.”