By Liam Williams
Local hero Josh Charnley is hoping to be selected to play on home turf when Rugby League World Cup 2013 comes to Wigan on Saturday (8.00pm) for England’s quarter-final against France at the DW Stadium.
The England winger’s focus is on ensuring he gets selected after missing the games against Ireland and Fiji as he recovers from a shoulder injury, though he appreciates what a good job his team-mates have done in his absence.
“The strength of the squad is very good,” said Charnley. “Everyone wants to play so we are all fighting for spots and, if anything, it helps us play better as individuals.
“I have got to train hard this week to get the nod because Tom Briscoe and Ryan Hall have been good. There is a lot of competition in the squad, but if I do get to start it will be exciting to play at Wigan for the last time this year.
“I still want to play, but having the break is not too bad. My shoulder injury is something I have had for a while, so it is not too bad now but it is better to rest it up though.
“I am comfortable and I am alright playing with it. I get an injection before games but over the last couple of weeks I have been able to rest it up a bit more and it is feeling miles better.”
Saturday’s fixture will be the fourth time England and France have met in as many years, but Charnley believes there is still an unknown element to their opponents.
“I don’t think you can ever fully know what to expect,” said Charnley. “You have to be prepared for them but you can’t always know what they are going to throw at you. We will review their last performance but then it depends who turns up on the day.
“We thought we knew what Fiji would bring. In their first two games they were been shooting out but against us they held off, so you never know.
“France have got a lot of Catalan players and that helps a bit because you know the individuals better, but I think everyone raises their game when they pull the international jersey on.
“I have played against France the last two times so I have an idea of what they will bring but every time you play these sides they will look to throw something different at you.”
Having completed a Super League and Tetley’s Challenge Cup double with Wigan Warriors this season, Charnley is aiming to complete an unprecedented treble at RLWC2013, and says it would be the greatest achievement of his career.
“It would be massive,” he said. “I have done the double with Wigan which is rare in itself, but I get the chance to play with some great players in the England squad as well so to win the World Cup as well would be unbelievable.”
Tickets for the England v France RLWC2013 quarter-final at the DW Stadium, Wigan, on Saturday are still available from as little as £15 for adults and £7.50 for concessions. To purchase your ticket, please visit www.rlwc2013.com/tickets or call the 24-hour Ticket Hotline on 0844 847 2013.