Alex Walmsley will hope to realise his lifelong dream of representing England in next month’s Rugby League World Cup in Australia, following a call up to the 24-man squad.
The former Leeds Beckett student and current St Helens star is relishing the opportunity to represent England for the first time in this year’s Rugby League World Cup. Walmsley, 27, is set to realise a lifelong ambition when he takes to the field as part of the ‘Wall of White’ and says it will be a “massive honour” representing England.
“It’s going to be a massive honour to go over to Australia and hopefully be a part of a winning World Cup side. It is an ambition most people who play sports have when they are growing up and to get to represent your country, especially during a World Cup, is a huge accolade and something that I’m very proud of.”
The colossal Prop Forward enjoyed another incredible year with the Saints, playing a crucial part in their late surge to the Play-Offs in Super League and admits he had his sights set on featuring in the World Cup.
“I have always believed if you are playing well for your club, it’ll come off of the back of it and I was so concentrated on my form for St Helens and knew what would be, would be. It was unexpected but it was certainly something I was aiming to achieve.”
England’s last match saw them beat Samoa 30-10 in May and, although Walmsley was part of the travelling tour side, was unfortunate not to make his England debut in that game.
“It was obviously disappointing to not play in that game but it definitely reignited the hunger to go away and actually represent your country even more,”<
“It definitely gave me an insight into what it takes to be a fully-fledged international. When you are training with the likes of Sam Burgess, James Graham and Sean O’Loughlin it shows you the level that you need to be at to realise your dream.”
Walmsley’s dream will be realised when he takes to the field during the World Cup, with a debut in Wayne Bennett’s side imminent, possibly in England’s first pool game against reigning Champions Australia on Friday 27 October.
His journey to the top, however, is uncharted territory for most players.
Having worked his way up through the ranks, from Championship side Batley Bulldogs to current club St Helens, Walmsley’s first career steps took place with Leeds Beckett University under the guidance of coaches Paul Fletcher and Paul Cook.
“I loved my time at Leeds Beckett, it was a great 12 months,” he said. “They (Fletcher and Cook) showed a lot of confidence in me and helped put me on show a little bit to professional clubs.
“They made a viable route for me to make it to the top of my sport, they created that opportunity for me and I’m really grateful for what they have done for me.”
Not only did he benefit professionally from the opportunities Leeds Beckett afforded him but Walmsley also says being at Leeds Beckett helped him make friends for life.
“I’ve got some very fond memories from my time at Leeds Beckett that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I had a great twelve months there being a part of the team with the boys and making friends for life.”
Walmsley is one of many rugby league players to go on to the professional ranks and achieve great things in the sport, a list that includes Leeds Rhinos Star Jimmy Keinhorst and Batley Bulldogs Hooker Alistair Leak.
Those players, in Walmsley’s mind, benefited from the great sporting environment and facilities Leeds Beckett has to offer and urges anybody looking to take part in sport at University to look no further than his old University: “I’d say just go for it and take the opportunity with both hands, especially at Leeds Beckett where they have an unbelievable sporting background and facilities. It really does give you a platform to excel yourself as a sportsman and go down those avenues.”
If you are inspired by Alex’s story and want to follow in his footsteps find out more about our Rugby League Athletic Union club
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