DREAM TEAM half-back Luke Gale is waiting for an England call.
Castleford Tigers completed their 2016 campaign with a win over Widnes Vikings last weekend, but Gale is hoping to be included in Wayne Bennett’s England squad for the Four Nations, which begins next month.
Gale was a non-playing member of then-coach Steve McNamara’s squad for last autumn’s Test series against New Zealand, but is tipped to make his England debut this year after an outstanding season for Tigers.
He confirmed: “There’s a few fall-out sessions [for players not involved in next week’s First Utility Super League Grand Final] to keep us fit and I think the squad gets announced on October 9 or 10.
“Who knows what Wayne [Bennett] is thinking, but I will put my hand up and hopefully I’ll be good enough to get in the squad.
“I got an email to say I am in the fall-out sessions, I think they are on October 6 and 9.
“I think the team gets picked after that.”
Gale has already received one end-of-season honour, being included in the Super League Dream Team for the second successive year.
“It’s a great honour to be named in it again,” he said.
“There’s some great players in there so I am really pleased.”
Gale is one of two Tigers representatives, alongside record-breaking winger Denny Solomona.
The Kiwi’s 42 tries were the most scored in a season by a Castleford player and he also set new Super League bests for hat-tricks (seven, including one four-try haul) and tries (40).
“He has been awesome,” Gale said. “He is probably the best finisher in the world for me.
“Some of the tries he has scored this year have been unbelievable. You pass him the ball and he scores. He has been outstanding and he deserves all the accolades he gets.”
Tigers were the only team outside Super League’s top-four to gain Dream Team recognition. Gale reckons they can be proud of their efforts this year, despite not featuring in a major final.
He said: “We have had massive injuries, so I think what we’ve done, to finish fifth, it has been an outstanding season and a massive achievement.
“We’ve had some crucial injuries throughout the year. We’ve had a number of people at stand-off: props, hookers, they’ve all had a go.”
Gale is confident Tigers can break into the top-four and challenge for honours in 2017. He added: “I think we are probably the best attacking side in the competition. If we can really sort our defence out in the off-season and keep teams to below 20, hopefully we can be a top-four team.
“That’s what Powelly [coach Daryl Powell] speaks about and it’s what we want to be. We will be working hard and fingers crossed we don’t get as many injuries.
“We’ve had Michael Shenton, Ben Roberts and Andy Lynch –three crucial players – out for pretty much all year.
“If we can avoid injury I think we will go well.”