Cudjoe living the dream

Leroy Cudjoe is determined to make the most of the biggest day of his career when he makes his England debut against Australia in Melbourne, on Sunday.

The withdrawal of Michael Shenton with an ankle injury has given a golden opportunity to a player who has impressed England coach Steve McNamara with his attitude and application, both in action and in training.

The quiet man of the England squad has been in top form throughout 2010 with Huddersfield Giants and is aiming to take his club form into his international bow.

“This is the day I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid,” said Cudjoe.

“It’s going to be a great experience, I’m really looking forward it.

“I really feel for ‘Shenny’, it was a terrible blow to be injured like that when he was in such good form, and I hope I can play as well on Sunday.

“It’s been a terrific trip so far, I have had a great time being part of the England squad and I feel I’m ready for Sunday.

“I had hoped I might get the chance to play against the New Zealand Maori two weeks ago because I knew Steve wanted to use most of the squad.

“I saw that as my chance to show what I can do but when it was decided we could only play 17 players, it was inevitable that Steve would go with the guys who hadn’t played for a while.

“I never lost heart though, I’m really glad to be here and I have enjoyed every minute of it.”

Cudjoe’s only previous international experience came five years ago when he was named in the England Under-17s train-on squad for a series against the Australian Institute of Sport – a squad that featured current England team-mates Darrell Goulding and fellow debutant Ben Harrison – but he was dropped from the final pick.

For all his lack of international experience, Cudjoe’s statistics in 2010 speak for themselves: this season he carried the ball for 2,600 metres, a total beaten by only three other England players (James Graham, James Roby and Ryan Hall); he missed just 12 tackles all year; and scored 22 tries in Super League, leaving him seventh in the try-scoring charts.

“It’s been a good year for me and though a lot of my friends and family kept telling me I stood a chance of making the Four Nations squad, it came as a bit of a surprise when the coach rang,” he said.

“It’s great to know that Steve has faith in me and I want to repay that faith on Sunday. This is a squad which can achieve a lot.

“I know that everyone is saying that Australia’s strength lies in their back but I’m not worrying about them. My focus is all about my own game and playing well myself.

“I’m a pretty laid back person and I intend to approach this match likes it’s just another game. I never get pre-match nerves and I don’t think I will this weekend.”

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