LEEDS RHINOS’ Liam Sutcliffe reckons he will be a better player for his post-season experience in the England set-up this year.
Sutcliffe made his England debut in October’s Test win over France and then featured for the second string Knights on their tour to Papua New Guinea, which included a week’s preparation in Brisbane, Australia.
He is now back in pre-season with Rhinos and said: “It was great to make my debut and I’ve had an insight into what it’s like in the England camp now.
“But I think going on the Knights tour really helped because of the kind of tour it was, going over to Papua New Guinea which is a bit of a mad place.
“I think that will all be good experience.”
Papua New Guinea is the only country where rugby league is the national sport.
It was great to make my debut and I’ve had an insight into what it’s like in the England camp now.Liam Sutcliffe
The tropical conditions and enthusiasm of the fans – plus an unfamiliar culture and lifestyle – make it a unique tour for any international side.
Sutcliffe reflected: “It was different, seeing what it’s like over there and how they live and things like that, but it was a good trip and I really enjoyed it.
“It was good being around the set of lads we had. Everyone was sound and we all got on with each other.
“I was surprised how close we were from when we arrived at the airport and that made the trip even better.”
Sutcliffe scored one of the Knights’ tries in their 16-12 first Test win, but was ill and missed the return which the tourists lost 32-22.
“It was a tough game,” Sutcliffe said of the opening match.
“They are a physical side. To play in that sort of stadium, where it was all fenced off and the army were there, was a bit of a mad experience.
“We got changed in the hotel and took the bus down and there was everyone all over the streets and in trees and stuff like that.
“The second game I was poorly a couple of days before so I missed that. I am fine now, I think it was a bit of a sickness bug.
“I had it for a couple of days and I only just started feeling right on the Saturday, the day of the game, so we said it wasn’t worth the risk. I hadn’t eaten for two days before it.”
The second Test was played on November 3 and Sutcliffe and his fellow tourists reported in to begin pre-season with Rhinos 23 days later.
“I had three weeks off and I managed to get away,” Sutcliffe said. “Now I am back in it’s good to be back in the swing of things.
“It’s going to be a big year, I think everyone will be out to try and impress and stake a claim to be in the team next season.
“Everyone’s ripping in at training and I think that’s a sign of things to come.”