Sam Wood's Hull KR decision vindicated as England debut beckons

He struggled to hold down a Hull KR spot last year yet stunned Sam Wood is now preparing for his England debut. The rangy centre left the Robins at the end of last season after becoming frustrated with a lack of regular game-time.

He joined one of Super League’s lesser lights Castleford and earned that starting slot he craved. But even Wood didn’t envisage it ending with him being drafted into Shaun Wane’s squad for today’s mid-season Test against France in Toulouse.

It certainly vindicated his decision to leave Rovers where the utility player also featured on the wing, back-row and off the bench. Wood, who turns 27 in a few days’ time, recalled: “It was a calculated move. I wanted some game time.

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“I had some open and honest conversations with [KR coach] Willie [Peters] at the end of last season. There was another deal there for me but it wasn’t what I wanted to play or do. And he said he couldn’t guarantee that starting spot for me.

“It was my time to go and find that. I did at Cas. They’ve put a lot of faith and trust in me and hopefully I’m paying that back now. I’m loving it at Cas. I wanted consistent game-time and I’ve got it in a position I want to play. I can’t ask for more. But I never thought I was in the running for this. Never.”

Strong-running Wood has quietly impressed for Castleford and is set to line-up alongside Leeds centre Harry Newman as England bid to make it 23 straight wins against the French.

The ex-Huddersfield star conceded: “It was completely out of the blue. Waney rang me and I was over the moon. It didn’t really sink to start with and I was thinking ‘has that really just happened?’ But I got into camp on Wednesday and just got stuck in. It’s been great.”

His feat is all the more remarkable given his complete lack of previous international action. Wood revealed: “I’ve not played at any level: not Academy, not Under 16s, nothing.

“That’s probably where it comes from that I never really expected a call: I’ve never even been in the England system. But now I just want to do my family proud for the sacrifices they’ve made and my friends and family back home. I’ll enjoy it and hopefully round off a good week.”