CASTLEFORD Tigers’ Adam Milner says England coach Wayne Bennett has delivered some “touching” speeches in the build-up to Sunday’s second Test against New Zealand.
The industrious loose forward has been called up to the bench as England bid to clinch the series against the Kiwis at Anfield.
He’s got a wealth of experience and he’s actually been quite inspirational. He comes up and gives some quite touching speeches as well, which you don’t see too often.Adam Milner
He only made his international debut against France last month but is loving his first experiences under the legendary coach.
Bennett is known – in public, at least – for his steely persona but Milner says the famous Brisbane Broncos chief is altogether different in camp.
“I’m learning lots from Wayne Bennett,” said the 26-year-old
“He’s got a wealth of experience and he’s actually been quite inspirational. He comes up and gives some quite touching speeches as well, which you don’t see too often.
“For a new lad coming in, it’s great to be a part of.
“We went to Belgium the other week to visit the war memorials as it’s 100 years since the end of the First World War and Wayne buys into all that.
“He expresses the importance of it to the team and it’s great to experience.”
Milner was elated to find out he had got the nod to replace injured captain Sean O’Loughlin this weekend. St Helens prop Luke Thompson is promoted from the bench to No13 and the Tigers player is set to make his mark as a replacement.
“I got told in the team meeting room at the first training session this week on Tuesday,” he said, as England seek to build on the 18-16 success against the Kiwis in Hull.
“I was buzzing. It was disappointing to miss out last week but I saw the boys get the win, and I wanted to be a part of it. It’s not the way I wanted to come into the team, with Lockers being injured, but I’m going to grab it with both hands and I can’t wait for Sunday.
“It’s been ace to be involved; I go home and then I want to come straight back into camp, that’s how good it’s been.”
Granted, Milner is a late bloomer when it comes to Test football but also an example of how persistence and hard work can reap rewards.
He has been one of the leading loose forwards in Super League for the last couple of years since being switched from hooker by Castleford coach Daryl Powell.
“Daryl’s been really supportive and really good,” added Milner.
“At club level he’s brought my game on leaps and bounds, especially since I’ve moved to 13. He’s confident in my ability.
“Credit to all the coaching staff at Castleford as they’ve done a massive job for me personally.”
Now the ardent Leeds United fan is looking forward to playing at the home of Liverpool FC – and hopefully retaining his place for the third Test at Elland Road.
“It was my first cap against France so there was a lot of buzz around it,” recalled Milner.
“It was special singing the national anthem and playing in that game, but it’s going to reach a whole new level playing in a proper three-Test series against the Kiwis on the biggest stage.
“The boys have been great. Jammer (James Graham) has given me lots of advice; he’s collared me a few times, told me I deserve to be here and I should back myself. Coming from such an experienced member of the squad that’s phenomenal really.”