SHOOTING STAR Robbie Ward reckons being part of a victorious England team against Australia will boost his hopes of becoming a first team regular for Leeds Rhinos.
Ward, 19, was a member of the England Academy side who beat the touring Australian Schoolboys in the second game of this month’s two-Test series.
England were pipped 22-18 in the opening match, but bounced back to win the series on aggregate after a 28-14 success six days later.
Future Grand Final winners Lee Smith and Carl Ablett were in the England Academy team which beat the Schoolboys a decade ago and Ward hopes this year’s triumph will give his career a similar boost.
“To be picked for the international side is only going to benefit me,” said the teenage hooker, who has been promoted into Rhinos 25-strong full-time squad for 2015.
“To beat the Aussies over here, it hasn’t been done very often so it was a great feeling.
“They are a top team and we had to play really well to beat them.
“I have got a load of confidence from that and I hope it will kick-start me for this season.”
Ward added: “I played seven times [for Rhinos] last season and now I want to play well for the under-19s and hopefully play more games for the first team.
“I was hoping to get one or maybe two at the most this year, so to get seven was massive for me.
“I didn’t think I would be as far ahead as I am, but I’m not taking anything for granted and I
have still got a lot more work to do to get into the position I play in the first team.
“I’m just going to keep working hard in training and hopefully I’ll get there.”
Ward - who won the Yorkshire Evening Post’s award as Rhinos’ most promising young player in 2014 - is hoping to carry on his international form when Wakefield Trinity Wildcats visit Headingley Carnegie on Boxing Day.
Rhinos’ side is expected to be confirmed this week and Ward said: “It was good to get some game time so early on in pre-season.
“Hopefully I can kick on and if I play on Boxing Day I’ll be in better shape now than I would have been before the England games.”
Ward also played for Rhinos under-19s when they were beaten 38-24 by the Aussie Schoolboys two weeks ago.
Rhinos were 22-0 down after 17 minutes, but battled back strongly and Ward feels there are positive signs for the future of the game in this country.
“We don’t normally beat the Aussies, so to beat them last week was fantastic,” he said.
“We had four players in the [England] team and we all played in both games, so that was good.
“It was a really positive experience and it has been great playing with a different set of lads and seeing how they play.
“They were all really nice lads and we got on really well together. We gelled really well in the two weeks we were together.
“We trained all year round, but to be in camp with them for two weeks and to be in different surroundings was really good.”