Michael McIlorum says he was surprised to get recalled for England by head coach Shaun Wane for the Combined Nations All Stars clash.
At 34-years-old, the Catalans hooker admitted that he thought his age could have played its part in Wane’s selection choices.
It’s been nine years since he last represented England, featuring at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
However, his club form has seen him earn a recall by his former Wigan coach.
With James Roby’s retirement from the international scene, it has left the door open for McIlorum to return to the England set-up after representing Ireland at the last World Cup in 2017.
“It was a bit of a surprise,” McIlorum said. “I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m very happy to be in Shaun Wane’s thoughts. He explained what he wants from me, what he wants from the team and it’s something I feel I can contribute towards, so I’m very happy.
“It’s been going well this year but it was more my age that left me surprised I was in Waney’s thoughts. It’s nice to be getting recognised regardless of how old you are. I don’t really think about internationals a lot, I just concentrate on playing rugby for my club. But it’s nice to be recognised by an international coach.”
England to face Combined Nations All Stars
England face the Combined Nations All Stars as part of their preparation for the World Cup this Saturday in Warrington. It will be their penultimate fixture before the tournament opener, with a friendly against Fiji also set to go ahead in Rochdale later in October.
The All Stars squad includes England World Cup hopefuls Daryl Clark and Kruise Leeming. But McIlorum looks to be leading the way for the number nine spot for the tournament.
“For England it’s the best option you can get, the All Stars,” McIlorum said.
“Nobody will fly over here from the Southern Hemisphere. So, to cherry pick the best players over here is the best way to do it. It’s a great challenge for us and it’ll be a good test for us.
“It’ll be strange playing for England again, but it’ll be great. My old team-mates in John (Bateman), Faz (Liam Farrell) and George (Williams), and Sam (Tomkins) being there was a big pull too, to play with those boys again.
“To be coached under Waney one more time at least, whether I’m there for the World Cup or not, it could be the last opportunity so it was a big pulling point to say I’d come over and have a crack at it.
“To test myself again is big, and the lads I’m playing with is a big thing. Waney said it would be really good for me to be involved again and I can’t say no to Shaun.”
Michael McIlorum on Ireland
McIlorum represented Ireland at both the 2008 and 2017 World Cups, having played for England in-between in 2013. He qualifies for Ireland through his grandfather. However, the hooker admitted that he has had calls with new-Ireland boss Ged Corcoran since his England recall.
“I’ve spoke to Ged Corcoran because Shaun gave me a ring. I said I’d have to speak to him out of courtesy,” he said.
“I told him England had asked me to be involved and that meant I wouldn’t be available at the end of the year for the World Cup. He wished me well, and I’ve spoke to him again since.”
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