Mikolaj Oledzki determined to make most of his England opportunity

Gdansk-born forward Mikolaj Oledzki thought it was a wind-up when he got the call to join up with the England squad but now he is determined to keep his place.

The 22-year-old Pole was drafted in for Shaun Wane’s first training session as England coach at Leeds Beckett University on Tuesday alongside his Rhinos team-mate Kruise Leeming and Huddersfield pair Matty English and Jake Wardle.

With seven members of his 35-strong squad based in Australia and several more sidelined though injury, Wane took the opportunity to introduce more players to the England training environment.

But Oledzki is not planning just to make up the numbers and says he will be pushing for a place in England’s mid-season international against the Combined Nations All Stars at Warrington on June 25 in the build-up to the end-of-year World Cup.

Oledzki, who went on the England Knights tour to Papua New Guinea in 2018, received the telephone call from Wane last Thursday and admits it took him by surprise.

“To be honest, I couldn’t believe it,” Oledzki said. “I thought it was somebody having me on.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity that Shaun gave me to come today and be involved in the team.

“I feel like I’ve been rewarded for putting all the effort in to be a better player this year.

“Now I’m here, I’m going to take the opportunity to make the most of it and make sure that I stay in this team and get a place.”

Mikolaj Oledzki in action for Leeds

Oledzki went on to produce an impressive performance for Leeds against St Helens in their gallant Challenge Cup defeat two days later and says the England experience will help motivate him for the rest of the season with Richard Agar’s team.

He added: “Rich said after the Saints game ‘I’ll get Shaun Wane to ring you before every game’.

“Getting rewarded for playing well or doing the little stuff right motivates you to keep putting the extra effort in.

“It was disappointing not to come out on the winning side on Saturday but it was nice for me to get a good performance in and hopefully I can build on that for the next few weeks.

“My ambitions and my target for this year was to play my best rugby and be consistently good every week. I knew, if I enjoy my rugby and play well, the rewards will come.

“My targets don’t really change, it’s just extra motivation, not that I needed it, an extra incentive to play well and be consistently good.”

Oledzki moved with his family from Poland to England at the age of nine, initially settling in Northamptonshire before moving to Leeds, where he first picked up a rugby ball when about 14.

“I guess you have to enjoy the journey,” he said. “You never know where it’s going to take you.

“I am quite fortunate that in the space of seven or eight years it has taken me this far.

“I’m very grateful but like to think it’s come from hard work and commitment from myself to be the best I can be. Every time I get an opportunity, I make the most of it.”

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