Wakefield Trinity’s Reece Lyne keen to show he belongs on World Cup stage
Playing for England once more was unexpected but Wakefield Trinity’s Reece Lyne believes he took his chance – and put his best foot forward towards gaining a World Cup place.
The centre featured in Friday’s 26-24 loss against the Combined Nations All Stars after making a late surge into Shaun Wane’s side.
Lyne had been omitted from the coach’s squad last November and was asked to improve certain areas of his performance.
After some impressive displays in Super League this term, he was recalled just over a fortnight ago but still had plenty of work to do to make Wane’s side given there are nine centres in the squad preparing for the World Cup.
That said, Hull FC’s Josh Griffin and Salford Red Devils’ Kallum Watkins have both suffered season-ending injuries, Leeds Rhinos’ Harry Newman and St Helens’ Mark Percival are also injured, while Wigan Warriors’ Zak Hardaker and Salford’s Dan Sarginson were each ruled out of the All Stars game due to suspension.
Warrington Wolves’ Toby King was expected to make his England debut but suffered a knee injury eight days before the game and Jake Wardle, the Huddersfield Giants youngster called up at late notice, also then had to pull out in similar circumstances.
All of which meant Lyne – whose only previous England appearance was a 2018 debut against France – started the game alongside Warrington second-row Ben Currie.
“It was really good to get back in the squad and play for England again,” he told The Yorkshire Post.
“It was the first game for Shaun Wane and it was good to get out there and be a part of it with the boys.
“There’s some top quality centres that are around and available when fit. It’s great for the game. But I definitely knew I had to make the most of my chance.
“I think I did a good job. The feedback I got from the coaching staff was positive and hopefully I’ve done enough to stake a claim for the next match.”
Lyne was strong and purposeful and showed some neat touches in attack even though England were eventually outmanoeuvred by their opponents, who boasted some of the best overseas talent in Super League.
“It was a tough, intense game and that’s what we wanted as part of the England team,” he said.
“That’s what we expect with quality players all over the field. It was really tough, physical and it was just unfortunate we ended up on the wrong end of the scoreline.
“You don’t really know what the team’s going to be when you have a 19-man squad and you then pick up a couple of injuries.
“With club games on as well, it was always going to make it difficult but it was important we played that game.”
St Helens duo Alex Walmsley and Jonny Lomax were late withdrawals for Wane who was also without his NRL contingent and took charge of a game for the first time since being appointed in February 2020.
World Cup organisers will decide this week whether the tournament – due to start when England play Samoa at Newcastle St James’ Park on October 23 – will go ahead as planned or be postponed until 2022 due to Covid.
Although Super League enjoyed no games being called off due to the pandemic in the opening eight rounds of 2021, it has suffered heavily since then in the last three weeks. Wakefield’s game tonight at Salford yesterday became the latest to be postponed after Salford reported positive Covid cases in their ranks.
Salford’s fixture at Hull on Monday has also subsequently been postponed meaning the number of Super League games called off since June 11 has risen to nine.
Lyne, 28, said: “As a player you’re desperate to play in a World Cup and I am desperate for it to go ahead this year.
“It will be disappointing if it is put back a year but if they did decide that then it’s what’s best for everyone given there’s a pandemic on. We’ll wait and see.”
Meanwhile, his Wakefield team-mate Joe Westerman also played for England last week and for the first time in seven years.
Lyne added: “Westy went really well against the All Stars.
“He’s a top player and has been outstanding for us this season.
“It was great to line up alongside him for England.
“He did a great stint for us in the middle and showed what he can do again. We’re looking forward to getting back playing with Wakefield.”
Given the current climate, when that will be is uncertain but Trinity are scheduled to host champions St Helens next Friday – with Lyne ready to showcase his England quality again.