Castleford’s Joe Westerman is the best number 13 in Super League and England coach Shaun Wane must pick him for the World Cup.
That’s the verdict of Tigers captain Paul McShane who has backed his club-mate to force his way back into the international picture.
Westerman, 32,, was left out of the England side for last month’s game against Combined Nations All Stars, with Wigan’s John Bateman starting at loose forward in a routine England win.
But Westerman’s form has been a big factor in the recent run of form that has seen Castleford win three in a row against Toulouse, Catalans and Huddersfield.
And it is the kind of form that is worthy of a World Cup place, according to England hooker McShane, who believes Westerman has been one of Castleford’s best signings.
“I would have Westerman in there,” McShane says, during a discussion on England’s likely World Cup squad on this week’s Love Rugby League podcast.
“I think how he is going, he is the best 13 in the comp.”
Flying the loose forward flag
Westerman has spoken passionately about his desire to preserve the identity of the ball-playing loose forward; inspired by Andy Farrell, Paul Sculthorpe and Sean O’Loughlin.
But McShane believes it is the other side of his game that has inspired the Tigers to become playoff contenders this year.
“Westy has been known as an attacker and a ball-playing 13 but what he has done for us defensively is a big indicator of why we have gone so well,” he adds.
“He has switched from that attacking mentality to defending, he’s a big boy and he’s putting his body on people and they are feeling it. He is such a talented player.
“Joe Westerman is a leader in every way. He is another of those blokes who loves Cas. He is a Cas lad and would do anything for the cause and has been an outstanding signing for us.”