Room-mates ready for Italy clash
New club-mates Gareth Hock and Rangi Chase will get an early experience of the home changing rooms at the Salford City Stadium on Saturday.
They were the big names among the dozen new signings unveiled by Salford's ambitious owner Marwan Koukash in early September and have spent the last fortnight as room-mates on England's high-altitude training camp in South Africa.
After playing their last matches for their old clubs six weeks ago, the pair are guaranteed to get the chance to gain much-needed match practice against Italy ahead of England's World Cup opener against Australia at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday week.
However, Hock reveals he stepped up his fitness regime during England's stay in Potchefstroom, thanks to the prompting of his new-found pal.
"I'm rooming with Rangi and he's had me up at seven o'clock and in the gym for half past," Hock said. "We've gelled really well.
"I'm looking forward to playing with him at Salford next year. It's really exciting to be joining a different team. There are some exciting thing happening there next year."
The 30-year-old second rower is equally excited at the prospect of facing the Kangaroos in Cardiff.
He played in all three of England's matches in the 2012 autumn international series but his place was thrown into doubt following a public fall-out with Wigan which resulted in a season-long loan spell at Widnes.
Hock was due to join Parramatta, along with his Wigan and England team-mate Lee Mossop, for 2014 but he pulled out of the move when his partner became pregnant and jumped at the chance to join Koukash's Red revolution.
The withdrawal through injury of Leeds forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan might well have paved the way for Hock's inclusion in coach Steve McNamara's 24-strong squad but he insists he never gave up hope of playing in the World Cup.
"It was my main goal at the start of the season," he said. "They don't come around that often."
Italy arrived in England on Wednesday to set up camp in Leeds and, packed with NRL experience, will be expected to provide England with a stern test as they prepare for their opening World Cup fixture against Wales in Cardiff a week later.
"It will be a good test for us before we play Australia," Hock said. "The boys really gelled on the camp. It was tough training at altitude but it's been good."