Eager Wakefield winger Ben Cockayne returned to training with the Wildcats this morning after spending the weekend with the England squad at RAF Cranwell.
The 29-year-old spent the first few days in his England capacity completing a series of team building exercises after being the first squad member to arrive at camp.
Cockayne joined up with the international side after he continued his impressive form for his home town club at St. Helens at the weekend. He scored another try to take it to eight scores in the opening seven rounds of Super League.
England head coach Steve McNamara called up the uncapped star earlier this month and the experienced outside back said his introduction to the squad couldn’t have been better.
“I enjoyed it, it was really good,” admitted Cockayne.
“I was the first one there so it was like being the new kid there nice and early, and eager but once I got chatting with everybody it was alright.
“On Sunday morning I had to get up in front of everybody and talk about myself for a minute and I didn’t have a problem about that because I had plenty to talk about, Herbalife got plenty of mentions.
“We then went on to do command tasks which was basically getting equipment from one place to another over obstacles without touching the floor. It was to see who the leaders are in the groups so that was really enjoyable.
“We had a couple of inspirational men speaking, we had a guy that was shot down in the Gulf War in 1991. On the second day we had the second in command for the defence of this country and he was speaking so some really inspirational guys telling some good stories.
“I suppose all bodes well as part of a team, they work as a team but part of a different field so I enjoyed it.
“On Monday morning they put me up again because I think I must have intrigued them about myself with my first one minute so they put me up again. I spoke about all my problems I’ve had in the past so as you can imagine I was stood there for about five minutes on that one!”
Despite it being Cockayne’s first call-up he is actually one of the more senior members of McNamara’s 30-man squad. The Wildcats number five says he fit in the group without any issues.
“When you play against each other week-in, week-out and whether you like each other or not you would have that respect for each other for doing the jobs we do. I was the new boy so they knew everybody really well but I slotted in fine.
“I found it easy to fit in, my age helped me as well. There were a couple of the young fellers Stevie Ward and John Bateman and when they had to do their minute speaking they struggled a little bit but that’s just their age. I’m obviously a bit older and got a lot more stories to tell than them guys so it was easier for me.”
The former Hull KR man has now switched his focus onto the big West Yorkshire derby at the Rapid Solicitors on Friday as Wakefield entertain Leeds and he is hoping to inspire and be a leader in the Trinity team.
“Now I’m being recognised for my form to be selected for the ETS I just want to be a leader for our team even though I know I play on the wing and I’m not in the middle all the time.
“If I can inspire some of the younger guys in the team to keep working hard and show them that when you do work hard you get your rewards. Whether that is early on in your career or in my case at the latter stage, I just want to keep playing well for the club and be a leader on the field. If I can do that and give our players a lift and inspire younger players then that would be great for me.”
A number of Rhinos players trained at the RAF base alongside Cockayne including England captain Kevin Sinfield and the former Normanton Knights junior is looking forward to coming up against them.
“I had a really good chat with Jamie Jones-Buchanan and he does a piece for the Rugby League World magazine so he wanted to speak to me about that. He spoke to me about my story and how I came from being in the military, having a turbulent time in my career and then finding myself back at a military base with the England squad.
“It was a case of telling them I’ll see them on Friday, business as usual.
“It’s going to be a massive task against us on Friday, Leeds got a nice win last week against Wigan and they’ve got some really powerful ball carriers and it’s a task we’re looking forward to.
“We beat them last year and it was a great night for us and we won it pretty convincingly in the end. If it turns out like that again this weekend then it will be outstanding but we are realistic enough to say Leeds are a top quality side.
“It’s going to be a challenge but if we play to our strengths and do what Rich (Agar) has asked us to do in terms of a game plan then we have a good chance.
“Wakefield fans turn out every week and the attendances have increased massively over last few years and that’s great. When you’ve a team like Leeds coming to town you know they’ll bring a lot of fans and Wakefield fans will bring one or two more than what usually would.
“If we can get 10,000 plus with the majority of them cheering us on its only going to benefit us on Friday night.”
Tickets are still available for the must see West Yorkshire derby as the Super League Champions face the Wildcats at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.
Adults can save £2 by pre-purchasing their tickets from the Trinity retail outlets before the matchday admission of £22. Concessions and juniors are charged at £12 while under 5’s are free. Buy yours today from the Stadium Box Office, Ridings centre or Trinity Walk stores or by calling 01924 211611 / 201548.
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