There aren’t many players who have had to work harder than Andy Ackers to achieve their dreams of representing their country in a home World Cup.
The Salford hooker has been on a different journey compared to most of his England team-mates, who are currently in camp preparing for this autumn’s World Cup on home soil.
Ackers was released by Wigan and Warrington as a youngster, but he never gave up on his dream.
He got a chance playing part-time rugby for Swinton whilst working in construction.
“I was working on building site with my dad,” Ackers said.
“I think he took me there on purpose to show me that I didn’t want to go down that route… That’s no disrespect to anyone working on a building site, but it just wasn’t for me. It made me even hungrier.”
In 2016, Ackers got the chance to go full-time with London Broncos before enjoying a spell with Toronto Wolfpack.
“I was 21 at the time and I had never lived away from home,” Ackers said.
“I’ve always been in little old Golborne and I got nosebleed every time I left Golborne to be honest with you! I remember ringing my dad about two weeks into being in London saying that I wanted to come home because I didn’t like it. But I grew up as a person and grew from being a boy into a man there.”
England dream come true for Andy Ackers
The 28-year-old was a standout player in the Championship and caught the eye of Salford, who gave him his Super League debut at 26 years of age.
And now, Ackers is on the brink of achieving his goal of playing for England at a World Cup after being named in Shaun Wane’s 24-man squad.
“It’s always been a goal of mine to get in this England squad,” Ackers said with a smile on his face after just finishing a training session with England.
“Shaun has given me an opportunity here to deliver my qualities to this squad so hopefully I can deliver that. I’ve only had three or four sessions but it’s an overwhelming moment and I’m forever grateful for it.
“I think I cried like a baby for around three days after Shaun gave me the phone call. That just shows how much it means to me.
“It has always been in my mind about what a dream it would be to play for England. It’s up there with the feeling of having my son being brought into the world. When I put the England jersey on I’ll be bursting with pride and I’ll give it my all.”
Ackers will make his England debut on Friday when they face Fiji in a warm-up match at Salford.