Olly Holmes has called for more international matches to be added to the rugby league calendar after making his England debut over the off-season.
Holmes was handed his maiden England cap in October’s 44-6 defeat of France and went on to feature as part of the England Knights tour to Papau New Guinea.
The Castleford Tigers forward believes more international fixtures can only benefit the profile of the sport and thinks it offers great incentive for players.
“The tour was a fantastic experience and one that will stay with me for a long time,” Holmes told LoveRugbyLeague. “Going over to Papua New Guinea is something that not many people get to do.
“We got to see the different schools and culture out there and how they live. I took some good memories from it and it’s something that will really stick with me.
“Any kind of representative rugby is always in your mind as a player and it’s something that you’re always striving for.
“Nobody wants to be complacent just playing club rugby. I’m hoping to be on another tour sometime soon.
“I think there should be a lot more international fixtures, for sure. There was one last year with the Denver Test, which worked really well, I think they had 20,000 people there.
“It would be great to push it into other countries that aren’t your heartlands of rugby league, such as America and places like that.
“I think the only way that you’re going to grow the game is through international rugby league.”
“It would be good to have dates pencilled as it does give something for players to strive towards.”
“I think that the international game has come on leaps and bounds from where it was five or six years ago. There’s a lot more meaningful games at that level now, such as the New Zealand series and the Great Britain Lions tour coming up.”
The only downside to the Tour, from Holmes’ perspective, was the escalation of a shoulder injury which may see him be out of action until April.
“I had rotator cuff and labour and repair on my right shoulder on December 3rd,” explained Holmes. “I’ve been playing with a shoulder injury for the past 4 years but injections have settled it down.”
“But for the past year it hasn’t really done much so I went for a scan when I got back from the tour. It was worse than we first thought when I went to see the surgeon. I’ve had it all repaired and I’m my way with recovery.”
“We’re sort of looking at April time for my return. If it’s before that then happy days. There’s no rush. We’ll get it right and we won’t have to think about it moving forward.”
“When I’d have my injections it would sort me out for 6 to 7 months before the pain returned. It wouldn’t affect me during matches but it would during training sessions and weights exercises.”
“It’s coming along nicely, I’m out of a sling and I’m moving pretty comfortably. I’m about a week in front of schedule. We’re not in a rush to get back but it’s coming along well.”