JOE GREENWOOD has spoken of his delight after learning he features in England’s plans for this year’s Rugby League World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The 23-year-old from Austerlands has been selected in head coach Wayne Bennett’s 31-man Elite Performances Squad that will meet regularly throughout the season.
“Obviously I am very happy and it came out of the blue. Hopefully I can make the cut and get a spot in the World Cup team,” explained the second-row forward who plays for St Helens.
Greenwood, who began his playing days at Saddleworth Rangers, was included in a similar squad last year in the build-up to the Four Nations Tournament, but didn’t make the final squad.
Marc Sneyd, who plays for Hull FC, failed to make the squad.
The former Waterhead Warriors’ player, like Greenwood, made the long list for the Four Nations Tournament, but didn’t make the squad for the competition.
But one of Bennett’s assistant coaches is former Waterhead Warriors’ player Paul Sculthorpe who became a legend at St Helens.
The World Cup is later in the year, though there is a mid-season Test against Samoa in Sydney on May 6 as part of the build up.
Greenwood’s immediate thoughts, however, are on preparations for the start of the Betfred Super League. St Helens kick off the campaign with a glamour home game against Leeds Rhinos on Thursday, February 9.
And Greenwood is hoping Saints, who lost to Warrington in the semi-final, is confident they will be challenging for honours this time round.
He said: “When you look at the personnel we have added in the close season, we definitely have a squad strong enough to challenge for silverware if we stick together.
“Losing our half-back Matty Smith with a broken leg in the friendly defeat to Widnes was not what we needed, but we have other players who can slot in.”
Greenwood was the 18th man and didn’t play when Saints won the Grand Final in 2014, but featured in each of the last two seasons when they were knocked out in the semi-finals.
He says it has been strange this season travelling alone to training and games following car-share team-mate Jordan Turner’s move to the NRL in Australia.
Greenwood said: “It is tough travelling alone, especially during the winter months.
“I am still in contact with Jordan and he is loving it in Australia and he cannot wait for their season to start which is a couple of weeks after ours.”
Greenwood’s elder brother James will be helping relegated Hull KR try to win back Super League status at the first attempt in the Kingstone Press Championship that also contains Oldham RL.