Crusaders’ Welsh international forward Ben Flower is looking forward to shrugging off his injury that kept him out of the side for the latter part of the 2010 season so he can play for Wales in the forthcoming international season.
Wales kick off with a glamour friendly against Italy at The Racecourse on Sunday 3rd October (kick-off 2pm) and the now experienced Flower, with 42 Crusaders appearances under his belt, hopes to be part of the action.
“As a player, there’s nothing better than playing for your country and as a fan there’s nothing better than going to an international match,” he said.
“Last year, when we won the European Cup in Bridgend, it was one of the best feelings of my career. I hope we can do it all again this year.”
The friendly against Italy will be a tough warm up for the Welsh before they take on Scotland, Ireland and France in the Alitalia European Cup, with the winner qualifying for the 2011 Four Nations competition alongside England, Australia and New Zealand.
“It’s going to be a lot tougher this year,” he said, “Especially as we’re up against France, but we’ve got the players there to beat them.
“People like myself, Lloyd White and Elliot Kear now have another season of Super League under their belts. It will have made us all better players than last year. They’re going to do a great job for us I think. They’re looking forward to it as much as I am.
“The Italy game will be a big test for us especially as we’ll be up against players like Chris Nero from Bradford Bulls and my own team-mate Rocky Trimarchi – it’ll be great to play against him. There’s been a bit of banter there of course, nothing hostile though, he’s looking forward to it too.”
Flower says that his and the Crusaders’ move to Wrexham has certainly helped him as a player.
“It was tough to start off with,” he admits, “But as we all settled down and got into the swing of things, it went really well.
“I enjoyed being in the team and everything was good but then I picked up an injury and it set me back. But on the whole, Wrexham has been great and making the top eight as well was a massive improvement on last year.
“The fans have been outstanding too, very passionate. There’s a lot of fans wanting to see Wales play and I hear tickets are selling really well for both the Italy game in Wrexham and the Ireland match in Neath. Hopefully they’ll follow us to all the games like the Crusaders fans have done all season, it’ll be good to see a few come up to Scotland and down to France too. There’s a lot of big stars playing like Lee Briers and Gareth Thomas, and I know the fans will want to see them play for Wales and follow us throughout October.”