Cockayne shocked by England call
Wakefield winger Ben Cockayne, shocked by his call-up into the England squad, will now set about trying to stay in it.
The 29-year-old former Hull KR player was the only new face named in coach Steve McNamara's 30-strong elite training squad in preparation for the end-of-season World Cup.
McNamara has also to find room for his Australia-based players before trimming his final squad and Cockayne knows he has some work to do to overhaul Ryan Hall (Leeds), Josh Charnley (Wigan) and Tom Briscoe (Hull), who are all in front of him in the current pecking order.
"It's like a dream come true," he said. "I was a bit shocked when Steve rang me. I knew I had been playing reasonably well but to get that call was unbelievable.
"Hopefully I can push on and make something of it. I know that squad will get trimmed down later in the year and I just want to keep my form up for Wakefield."
McNamara admitted he could not ignore the claims of the form winger from the early rounds of Super League but says he has had his eye on Cockayne for some time.
"Over a sustained period of time his form has been outstanding," McNamara said. "He caught my eye last season and his form is even better at the start of this season.
"He's a very infectious character and I'm sure he'll bring energy and enthusiasm to the squad. He's a very smart rugby league player."
Today's call-up marks a transformation in the fortunes of a player who was sacked by Hull KR two years ago after he failed to heed a final warning for a breach of discipline.
He was thrown a lifeline by home-town club Featherstone and turned around his personal life before returning to Super League with the Wildcats.
"There's a lot of people at Wakefield who have to be acknowledged for this, especially the coaching staff for giving the chance to get back into Super League," he said.
"They've given me a bit of a free role within our team and I think that gives me a chance to express myself a bit more."
McNamara insists the door is still open for other players to break into his squad but admits it will take something special.
"I'm pretty loyal to the group that have been together for quite a while now," he said.
"I've got a whole amount of trust and faith in this group and it will take something special for people to break into it.
"There are numerous other players in the Super League competition who are playing very well right now and, if they sustain that form over a period of time, they will certainly come into the reckoning.
"We've announced 30 players and we do have an opportunity to expand that, maybe in the next camp we could bring in a couple more players."
With one eye on the future, McNamara has also invited a trio of teenagers to get a taste of the big time in the absence of an England Knights training camp.
Bradford's England academy captain John Bateman, 19, Leeds utility player Stevie Ward, 19, and Warrington second rower Ben Currie, 18, are expected to form the nucleus of the side for the 2017 World Cup but McNamara says they could yet force their way into the reckoning for October.
"We need them to get a taste of what it's like in the senior group," he said. "I'm looking at them for the future but, who knows, they could quite possibly be the now as well.
"They will be coming into their prime for the next World Cup along with a lot of our young outside backs and a fair few of our front rowers.
"But, if you look at the back row, there's quite a few ageing players who won't be there in four years' time. These three are going to be strong candidates for those positions.
"We obviously all want to go and win the World Cup this year but we want long-term success."