MIKE MCMEEKEN has credited Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell for his development as a player since travelling north from London Broncos.
The 22-year-old back rower trained with England for the first time on Monday after being included in the elite performance squad and has been showing international form so far in 2017 with some impressive displays.
His club boss tipped him for future international honours last year, but it is still a big rise for the Basingstoke man to be in the mix already and he puts it down to the improvement brought about by Powell and his coaching staff.
He said: “I’d say I was half the player I am now when I first signed for Cas.
“They have helped me hugely in my career and I look forward to improving it even more with them.
“It’s great having four Cas players here, too; it’s massive recognition for the club and hopefully we’ll get a few more in over the next few seasons.
“It was a huge honour to be selected for it a good and enjoyable first session.
“It’s been good to get a bit of familiarity on the field with the play, a bit of structure going, while everybody is seeing each other’s faces and getting their combinations right.”
McMeeken admitted his England call has come earlier than he believed it would.
He said: “I was delighted when I got the call-up.
“I didn’t anticipate it happening for a few years.
“I’ve obviously got a lot more to continue working on and I plan on doing that this year.
“No position in the England squad is going to be easy to get into, but back row is hard in particular.
“I’ve got six, seven eight top-quality back rowers in front of me at the moment.
“But it’s healthy competition. It’s nearly week in week out that you play against an England back-row in Super League.
“You aim to be better than them at each match when you go up against each other. That’s how you get consistency.”
Castleford’s success if they can make the top four can only enhance McMeeken’s claims for a spot in the World Cup squad and he reckons they are in good shape to make the play-offs this year.
He added: “Potentially I think we have the ability to win some silverware this year.
“It’s down to us to keep that consistency week in, week out, making sure we improve all the time.
“At the moment we’re in good form. It’s only week three and we need to take it a game at a time but personally I think we can.
“And in our squad, too, we have lot of competition so I can’t afford to have a bad game. We have some real top quality back-rows like Jesse Sene-Lefao and Oli Holmes, who is coming back soon.”