George Williams says being England captain is ‘beyond his wildest dreams’ as he prepares to lead his country in this autumn’s test series against Tonga.
The Warrington Wolves star burst onto the international scene as a 20-year-old, making his England debut in a 84-4 thrashing of France in Leigh.
Williams has been part of the England set-up ever since, but had to wait patiently for a regular spot, playing two games in the 2017 World Cup before shining in last year’s World Cup on home soil – even getting the chance to lead his country for the first time.
Shaun Wane’s England side bowed out of the tournament in the semi-finals to star-studded Samoa, who made history by becoming the first tier two nation to reach the final.
Williams, 28, took over the England captaincy from the retiring Sam Tomkins earlier this season for their mid-season win over France, and he will lead his country again in their three-match test series against Tonga this autumn.
“I was fortunate enough to do it in the World Cup with Sam not playing but to officially be England captain is the best of the best, it’s something that’s probably beyond your wildest dreams,” Williams told Love Rugby League at England’s press conference last Tuesday.
“It’s something I look forward to. I made my debut in 2015 and I think the World Cup (last year) was the first time I had five or six games in a row (for England), so it’s something I’m obviously happy with.
“I’ve earned my stripes, I’ve been in and around the group a long time now so I’ve just got to play like I did in the World Cup – I thought I played pretty well – but obviously win this time and win the series.”
George Williams enjoying leadership role with England and mentoring future stars
Wane handed England debuts to 13 of the nation’s brightest stars in their 64-0 win over France in April, an experience which made Williams truly appreciate every international cap that comes his way.
“That was very rewarding for me to be honest,” Williams said of leading the youthful England camp earlier this year.
“It’s not that you lose track of it, but because making my debut happened a long time ago to me, to see what it meant to them to be in and around the group just gave me a bit of a reminder to be grateful of where you are – not that I wasn’t, but it’s sometimes a bit of a realisation of how special it is being in camp because I’ve been fortunate enough to be in it for eight years. It made me feel brand new again so it was good for me and seeing so many debutants was unreal.”
International rugby league calendar starting to take shape
England will face Tonga in a three-match test series this autumn, with games being held in St Helens, Huddersfield and Leeds.
And there will be more international action in the southern hemisphere, with Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and the Cook Islands taking part in the inaugural Pacific Championships.
It is music to the ears of Williams, who says he is pleased to see more regular international rugby league starting to get scheduled in.
“That’s probably the biggest thing that I’m pleased about, that we’ve got something set in stone each year,” Williams said.
“We’ve got something to look forward to – England playing every year – there’s guaranteed games, I think that’s what you need building into World Cups.
“You need to play against the best nations which now we’re doing so we are challenging ourselves each year and we can build, so I think that’s the best thing that’s happened in recent years.”