RISING star Daryl Clark has expressed his delight at being selected for the England under 19s Academy squad.
Castleford Tigers’ 17-year-old hooker is set to follow in the footsteps of team-mates Adam Milner and Jordan Thompson, who starred for the under 19s against the Australian schoolboys recently.
The former Fryston ARL junior will join up with the England squad when they travel to France this summer for a Test series against their European counterparts and he is joined in the 38-man squad by six Warrington Wolves players, five from Wigan Warriors, Bradford Bulls and St Helens, four players from Leeds Rhinos, two from both Hull clubs and Harlequins and a sole representative from Salford City Reds. Co-operative Championship side Widnes Vikings have had four players selected for the 2011 squad with Championship One side Whitehaven also having a representative.
Clark (pictured right) told the Express: “I hope I can do Castleford and the club proud when I get the chance to pull on an England Academy shirt.
“I’ve played Rugby League all my life, but I’ve never had the opportunity to play in Europe or get to any previous England camps so it’s the first time I’m going to experience it and I’m looking forward to it.
“It’s good to achieve and be noticed like Adam Milner and Jordan Thompson were. They are good mates of mine and they are great players.
“I’d love to get a chance to have a crack at the Australians like they got if they were to come over again.
“They told me to get my head down and keep working and to get to know people while I’m in the training camp and said it will be a great experience.”
Clark showed why he is rated so highly by the Tigers coaching staff when he announced himself on the senior game with an impressive solo try in the pre-season game against York City Knights and he is hoping for another first team opportunity this year.
He added: “I started training with the first team squad half way through last season and I’ve carried on in pre-season this year.
“All the senior players have been really helpful. They are always giving you little tips and telling you the right and wrong way to do things to try and help you improve your game.
“My aim for this season is to try and keep working hard and hopefully get an opportunity to play for the first team some time during the year.
“I played all my amateur rugby just up the road at Fryston and I went to Airedale High School so I’m a local lad and it means a lot to play for Castleford. It’s great to step out onto the pitch where I’ve watched rugby all my life.”
England Academy head coach Dave Elliott said: “We’ve got a lot of new, talented young players who have come up from our youth programme and players who have forced their way into the squad after performing well in 2010, so it’s an exciting time for us.
“The series against France will be a big test because the French are constantly improving and some of our young players have never beat France before. It will be a big incentive for them to secure a starting position and it’s a challenge for the older players to perform like they did last season.”
Despite leading the 2010 side to a famous series victory, Elliott is keen to focus his squad on the upcoming challenges rather than rely on the achievements of last season.
He added: “It was fantastic to beat Australia, but we need to put that to bed now and re-focus our minds on the next 12 months.
“It’s part of the players development to learn how to re-focus their goals and set themselves new targets and that’s what they all need to do because we know the French games will be tough.
“It’s a also important that the players come into the England set-up with good behaviour and good values. A lot of our focus last year was to reinforce what it means to play for England and ensuring our players want to wear the England shirt at every level.
“We achieved that last year. The squad all had a real desire to play for England and I think we’re creating a good culture within our England set-up that breeds good performance, good preparation and good winners, which I think can only be for the good for the game.”
The full 2011 England Academy squad is:
John Bateman (Bradford Bulls), Michael Bishay (Harlequins), Daniel Bridge (Wigan Warriors), Alex Brown (Widnes Vikings), Greg Burke (Wigan Warriors), Liam Carberry (Wigan Warriors), Jordan Chase (St Helens), Daryl Clark (Castleford Tigers), Jack Cockerham (Bradford Bulls), Ben Crookes (Hull FC), Ben Currie (Warrington Wolves), Ben Evans (Warrington Wolves), Rhys Evans (Warrington Wolves), Thomas Gilmore (Widnes Vikings), Bobbie Goulding (Warrington Wolves), Robert Hawthorne (Bradford Bulls), Daniel Jones (St Helens), Josh Jones (St Helens), Reece Lyne (Hull FC), Liam McAvoy (Bradford Bulls), Andrew Morris (Salford City Reds), Adam O’Brien (Bradford Bulls), Gene Ormsby (Warrington Wolves), Jack Owens (Widnes Vikings), Jay Rossi (Whitehaven), Matthew Russell (Wigan Warriors), Liam Salter (Hull KR), Daniel Sarginson (Harlequins), Declan Sephton-Hulme (Widnes Vikings), Ryan Shaw (Warrington Wolves), Louis Sheriff (Hull KR), Brad Singleton (Leeds Rhinos), Daniel Smith (Leeds Rhinos), Jared Stewart (Leeds Rhinos), Chris Taylor (Wigan Warriors), Steve Ward (Leeds Rhinos), Greg Wilde (St Helens), Daniel Yates (St Helens).