12th June 2018, 11:41 | super_league
Jake Connor's form for Hull FC has been rewarded with an England call-up to face New Zealand at the Mile High Stadium in Denver on June 23.
An inconsistent term last year led to substitute appearances for Connor as his performances fluctuated.
This season, Connor has rectified his problems with consistency to hit the ground running as he looks to help Hull FC into the Super 8.
The 23-year-old former Huddersfield player is one of three uncapped players chosen by head coach Wayne Bennett, Connor, the surprise selection was left ‘speechless’.
“I got a call off Jamie Peacock, I had an inkling I was in contention.
“When he told me I was in – people always say they don’t know what to say – but for once, I didn’t actually know what to say.
“I was speechless.”
Connor’s club coach Lee Radford recently commented on his chances of selection for England.
“He’d be a fantastic utility option, but I don’t know what position he’d go to Denver in.
“There are some centres in fantastic form in the competition and in the halves.
“He’s talented enough to go to Denver and he’d certainly get under the Kiwis’ skin I’m sure of that.”
Connor scored 11 tries in 23 appearances during his debut season for Hull FC, but admitted that his performances had been inconsistent, understanding the need for consistency, he made it his objective.
“Last year I dipped in and out of consistency with my performances, sometimes I wasn’t playing good enough and getting dropped to the bench – which I had to cope with.
“I made it a key target this year to keep playing well and getting that consistency and it’s paid off for me,” said Connor.
As a youngster growing up, it had always been a dream of Connor’s to represent his country, there was no time-frame on his dream, as long as he made it before he retired.
“Everyone dreams of it, I didn’t think it would be this soon, down the line I would’ve wanted to play for England before I retired.
“So for it to come this soon, I’m speechless, and I don’t know what to say about it, I just can’t wait to get going.
“Coming up as a kid, from where I was, to where I am now, I’ve improved massively and I’m getting the rewards out of it,” he said.
The best players shine on the biggest stages, Connor, has the ability to change the game with his individual ability, which can sometimes be the fine margin in winning international games.
“I’m really happy because there’s some class players who could’ve stepped in just as much as me.
“I’ve just been concentrating on playing rugby – it’s down to this club (Hull FC), the way they play really helps me.
“It brings the best out of me, kind of off-the-cuff football – basically I can do what I want on the field and that’s really helped me.”