Castleford Tigers: England forward McMeeken backing US Test initiative

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CASTLEFORD TIGERS’ England forward Mike McMeeken says it is vital this summer’s mid-season Test against New Zealand goes ahead.

The game, set for Denver, Colorado on Saturday, June 23, is under threat because of opposition from clubs in the southern hemisphere’s NRL.

Mike McMeeken. PIC: Daniel Carson/SWpix.com/PhotosportNZ

Mike McMeeken. PIC: Daniel Carson/SWpix.com/PhotosportNZ

They say playing at altitude, in summer conditions, will put players’ health at risk, something denied by England doctor Chris Brookes.

McMeeken is a member of England’s elite performance group and likely to be in the squad for the trip to America.

“It is a massive game for us,” he said. “Last year showed that having a mid-season Test helped up heaps when it came to the World Cup.

“We were massively competitive in both the first game against Australia and the final as well and I think a lot of that was down to that mid-season Test.

Castleford Tigers' Mike McMeeken. PIC: Simon Cooper/PA Wire

Castleford Tigers' Mike McMeeken. PIC: Simon Cooper/PA Wire

“The England lads meet up every month, but having that mid-season Test when we have game time with each other helps.”

The Denver game is also set to begin the countdown to the World Cup due to be played in the United States and Canada in seven years’ time.

“It’s not every week or every year you can play in places like Denver,” McMeeken added.

“It will be a massive event, you sense there’ll be a massive following of the game and it is going to make the game grow.”

Meanwhile, McMeeken – a member of the 2017 Dream Team – admits he has yet to reach his best form this season.

“I am still working on match fitness and little things on the field to make myself better,” he said.

“You are never going to be the finished article and there’s always things to be working on.”

Tigers make the short journey to Wakefield Trinity tomorrow to kick off Betfred Super League’s Easter fixtures.

They will be aiming for a fifth straight win and the hosts are on a two-match losing run, but McMeeken is predicting a tight contest.

“Over the last few seasons they have been really good,” he said of Trinity.

“We expect them to come after us. They’ve got a big forward pack with a lot of skill and we are expecting a big contest. Throughout their whole pack they have got a lot of threat they’ve got a lot of skill in terms of moving the ball about and offloads.”

Tigers’ home Super League game against Wakefield has been moved forward two days to Friday, April 27 (7.45pm), for live coverage on Sky Sports.

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