MAN of Steel Luke Gale is hoping a successful Rugby League World Cup with England can take away the heartache of Castleford Tigers’ Grand Final defeat to Leeds Rhinos.
Gale has been chosen to start at scrum-half in England’s opening World Cup match against Australia tomorrow and is putting all his attention now into delivering his club form at international level.
Grand Final apart, the 29-year-old playmaker has enjoyed his best year in rugby league with the Man of Steel award and Albert Goldthorpe Medal capping his consistent season for the Tigers. He is now looking to round it off by helping England into the World Cup final, something he believes the team is capable of.
He said: “It’s a massive task, one the boys are really looking forward to.
“It’s like being thrown into the lion’s den, in their own backyard. It’s going to be an amazing experience.
“We will be raring to go in the first game. It’s exciting. It would be a great tonic after the grand Final to beat the Aussies down under.
“But I think the 24-man squad Wayne Bennett has named is very strong and I’m very happy with it.”
Gale admitted to being hugely disappointed by how the Tigers played in the big game at Old Trafford, but insisted that everyone could still be proud of a great season for the club.
He added: “It wasn’t a great feeling after the final, but I went to Dublin with the lads and had a few pints of Guinness.
“It was a time to reflect on a great season, not to have our heads down.
“It was disappointing with how it ended, but I’m proud of where we’ve come as a team.
“We just fell short at the final hurdle. We’ll get better for the experience and we’re looking forward to next year already. I can’t take long to get over it, I’ve a different task ahead now with the World Cup,
“I want to test myself against the best players in the world and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Gale and his England team-mates, also including Castleford’s Mike McMeeken, warmed up well for their first competitive game down under when they ran in 13 tries in a 74-12 win over a Combined Affiliated States team in Perth.
Gale scored in the first minute and added a second try later while also kicking three goals before being rotated as head coach Wayne Bennett looked at all his combinations.
He obviously did enough to see off competition from George Williams and Kevin Brown, who have been left out of the England 17 for the Australia game, but clubmate McMeeken has not been able to force his way into the side.