It means everything to Jordan Turner to represent Jamaica.
Turner was born and raised in Oldham but qualifies to play for the Reggae Warriors through his Jamaican heritage.
His Jamaican roots come from his grandparents, who he talks so fondly about. Turner has even been back on the island to Newcombe Valley in St Elizabeth, the birthplace of his grandmother and auntie.
And tonight, Turner will make his debut for Jamaica when they take on England Knights in his very own testimonial match at Castleford.
In conversation with Love Rugby League, Turner said: “I have wanted to represent Jamaica for a long time. I will be immensely proud tonight when I pull on the shirt. It means everything to me to be able to pull the shirt on.
“I’ve actually been back and visited family in Jamaica. It is a pretty rural place really and it was a real opener for me when I went back and visited my family. I am so proud to be able to represent them and no doubt they’ll be watching back on the island and cheering us on.”
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It is quite fitting that Jamaica will play England Knights in Turner’s testimonial. The Castleford winger actually played for the Knights twice back in 2012.
Turner recalled: “I actually played two games for England Knights in 2012 against Ireland and Scotland.
“I really enjoyed those games and I actually played in those games with Ben Jones-Bishop who is also playing for Jamaica now. With us playing the England Knights in my testimonial, it is sort of a match made in heaven in terms of celebrating my career.
“I want to make sure that we are being competitive and that we put on a good show and get what we want out of the game.”
Jordan Turner wants to inspire the next generation
In 2018, Jamaica qualified for the Rugby League World Cup for the first time ever. They were also the first Caribbean nation to do so.
The World Cup was scheduled to take place on English soil this autumn, but the tournament was postponed until 2022 due to Covid.
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Turner believes the Reggae Warriors can make it out of the group stages next year. He wants to inspire the next generation on the island in doing so.
He said: “We have got a really strong team and we want to be competitive.
“We are talking about trying to progress from our group in the World Cup – a group that contains New Zealand, Ireland and Lebanon. It is something we think we are really capable of doing.
“We want to do well on the playing side so it gives hope back to people in Jamaica. It shows that we are representing them and that anything is possible. We want to inspire everyone back on the island and take it to where we want to take it.”
Jamaica on the rise
The Jamaica Rugby League Association was only founded in 2004 but it continues to take great strides forward domestically and internationally.
Turner believes Jamaica can thrive in rugby league and that the culture will boost the atmosphere at the World Cup.
He added: “We are a small island in the Caribbean with a population of 2.4million people and we just seem to be good at all sports.
“We are one of the only small islands in the world that have a heavy influence on people with our music. The Jamaican culture just really draws people in. I think that is one of the things that have drawn people in to the rugby league team as well.
“People go mad for rugby league back in Jamaica. Rugby league in Jamaica has propelled over the last couple of years.
“Even our kit, people have gone mad for the Jamaica kit online. Our culture just draws people in really and it is something we really want to showcase. I think people will jump on board with us and hopefully we will be everyone’s favourite second team at the World Cup next year.”
Tickets for Turner’s testimonial match are available on the gate. They are priced at £10 for adults, £5 for children and £20 for a family ticket. Meanwhile, the game will be shown live on Our League for £4.95.